Saturday, 24 June 2017

Open day pt2

An excellent weekend on the reserve and carefully picked 12 months ago in the knowledge the weather would be so good!  In the end we had 150 visitors on the Saturday and 256 on the Sunday enjoying the reserve and our exhibitors stands.  Unfortunately I was too busy running about so just a couple of snippets from the sunday - Martin undertaking an excellent moth demo at 10am - As the temperature was already 26 deg by 10am it was aided by multiple ice packs to try and keep some order rather than a mass moth exodus on removal of the cover!:
As ever visit Martin's site for finer detail.  The weekend coincided with the barrier being crossed of 650 species of moth now recorded at the reserve due to much perseverance and specialist knowledge both from here and beyond. 

That said our entomology guys have still to put a name to all species on the reserve:
One of the creations from the Tophill Education team! We also got news just prior to the weekend the facility has been awarded the accreditation below - great reflection on Margaret and the team's works getting up and running just in the last three months.  All the details on visiting are on the education tab above (and at the time of writing there is a space become available on the 12th of July). 

Lots of folks enjoying the shade today:
 And the pond dipping platform
One of the new displays for the Sunday - East Riding Archaeological Society:
The volunteers did a brilliant job across the weekend helping folk enjoy the reserve and keep things running smoothly - such as Roy here slowly frying in the car park all weekend under crystal skies:
An excellent weekend all round and some really nice people visiting - both old and new.  As such we've decided as glutens for punishment we will repeat the event next year - but just on the Sunday this time:

However with all the people about the worry may be that the wildlife may have been forgotten in proceedings or sent on its way.  As it happened we had some smart species around - in addition to the tawny owls which were the main show stealers all weekend.
Pick of the bunch was the wood sandpiper slightly eclipsing a green sandpiper it was with - wood by Will Scott:
 And Roy Lyon:
It represents the vanguard of the autumn passage.  However many may recall last years preceeding movement of little egrets and it would appear they are amassing now.  Oxygenated insect laden water is now flowing from the refilled South Lagoon to the Marshes creating a nice feeding fenzy in front of the hide - Michael Flowers:
 We've had a clear round of the hides subsequently so photo views are unimpeded.  Unfortunately still little success from the little ringed plovers - Roy Lyon:
Predation is still an issue; Last edition we reckoned foxes, and they are still most likely.  However a mink carrying young has been seen since and could account for a lot (hopefully not for long).  To try and salvage some success we attempted to ring electric fence a common tern attempting to nest on  the marsh.  Whilst one team cleared hide views another went to secure the nest which had been observed sitting at 8am - minimising disturbance of occupants by doing everything in one go.  On arrival at 11am no adults were in attendance and the volunteers found this:
Looking at the damage it would suggest an avian predator rather than mammal given the neat incision and emptied contents (whilst still in the nest scrape) and had happened in the interlude in mid morning.  Its perhaps attributable to the lack of black headed gulls this year and the effective early warning system against corvids and big gulls they provide.  A lone tern is easy pickings - potentially even for an oystercatcher which could be in the frame here too.

As such this summer is much about evidence gathering;  If you witness predation or predators on the marsh please pass the information on or enter it in the sightings books.  The more info we have hopefully the better defences we can establish this winter.

Not breeding either (though chance would be a fine thing) - little gulls have been a fixture - up to five 1st summers - Roy Lyon:
Slightly outclassed by a belting 2nd summer - Michael Flowers:
One success though has been the kingfishers - they successfully hatched brood number 2 on Thursday the 22nd - Chris Dixon:
Based upon literature and last time - this would place the fledging date at or around Monday the 17th of July.  As ever please be courteous when viewing and photographing and allow other fair chance to view. 

Another less documented success has been grey herons for the 2nd year.  Various jurrasic period squawks from the trees near north marsh betrayed one and probably 2 nests.  They were active all summer - Darren  Smith:
And youngsters seen and pictured - such as by Bruce Pillinger suggest successful fledging:
It was a hope to send a drone above the nest site and find out exactly what was going on.  Unfortunately our internal H&S procedures could not permit that this year.  Perhaps next season the herons will bring some of their little white friends too?  Cuckoo still glimpsed this week but its a last call for them now.  Some birds never even bothered with summer - looks like the resident goosander omitted it completely this year - Michael Flowers:
So calm and order restored again.  One of the nice things to see at the weekend was lots of interested youngsters coming through, but also the new paths and scale of Tophill meaning there are always quiet areas and good wildlife even at the reserve's busiest. 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Open day pt1

Great weather for the launch of the new facilities and walks at Tophill Low today.  Huge thanks to the volunteers who helped out and the exhibitors and organisations supporting us.  An early start for the gang:
Some of the excellent stands on offer - Hull Hedgehog hospital:

These orphaned hoglets need continuous care and feeding every 30 minutes:
Irresistible to all...
But hotly contested by East Yorkshire Bat Group:
 Kirsty the bat - too injured for release but looked after by the group and helping to promote bats
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust:
 Highfield Farm - local accommodation with a wildlife twist:
 Birding with Flowers, Nature Tourism Triangle, RSPB Wildlife explorers, East Yorkshire Rivers Trust, Tophill Education service:
 Pond dipping, Natural England, Trust for Conservation volunteers:
 Humberside Police rural crime unit:
 Tom updates the list for the day!:
And drawing the British Trust for Ornithology raffle - some great prizes on offer including free membership for one lucky winner! - Thanks to Mike Hessay for organising:
 Lukas showing one of the big attractions of the day - the roosting adult tawny:
 And youngster:
 Francis Bell captured a cracking picture earlier in the week:
 And one of the roe fawns about:
 Large-flowered hemp nettle - showing great on the meadow:
 Pyramidal orchid:
And stand of bees:
Grass snakes, little gulls, marsh frogs and broad bodied chasers all on show too.  

So hopefully much of the same tomorrow. In addition to Yorkshire Coast Nature, Yorkshire Red Kites, East Yorkshire Archaeological society - pop down for a great summertime experience.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Taking to the air

Plans are coming on well for the open weekend - hopefully none more so than the weather!
However prior to this we are starring on the Phil White roadshow this Thursday - broadcasting live from the reserve at 12pm.  Should be an interesting array of characters on air!!
Please note that Friday morning we have a Yorkshire Water event taking place so access to the reception hide and new paths will be limited until midday.
A good chance to embrace summer whilst you can - being as Autumn officially started today.  The first green sandpiper of the autumn passage arrived today - predictably within two days of June 15th. 
A bit more passage of time too;  A few regulars and talks have already seen this but will be 'new' to most.  A fascinating film commissioned by Yorkshire Water forerunner Hull Corporation Water board in 1966 'On Tap.'  This excerpt shows Tophill Low and the old works in its heyday.  Most remarkable are the near complete absence of trees apart from O res 'old wood,'  various now disappeared houses, playing fields and impeccable borders and flowerbeds.  Whilst the water treatment works has changed completely since this was taken it still shows the core function of Tophill Low. 
This film was passed to us by Sally Marshall - a former Tophill Low resident whose father had retained a copy in his lot and transferred it to digital.  He was also the chief planter of most of the trees present around the reserve today:

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

For full details of this event see our events page here