Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Photography exhibition & Christmas opening

Many photographers visit the reserve throughout the year and as a celebration of all the fantastic wildlife that has been seen and captured on digital media there will be a photo exhibition on display in the Holt classroom & in the viewing gallery. The exhibition will run from Sunday 16th December to Sunday 6th January and is free with standard reserve admission (£3.50 for adults, £1.80 for concession, children under 5 free). Please come and enjoy some spectacular photographs from the reserve.

As the festive and holiday season approaches, Tophill Low can be seen as a refuge from the hustle and bustle that the season encompasses. The reserve is open every day over the Christmas and New Year period during daylight hours and the last hours of the day are often the best with huge numbers of gulls coming into roost, a sight well worth seeing so plan your escape as the world around gets rather busy!

Enjoying our wonderful woodland

Autumn has been unseasonably late this year and we have had to wait until the first weeks in November before we have truly seen the characteristic autumnal colours around the reserve’s woodland. And it has been worth the wait, providing visitors with a stunning backdrop. All deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn to minimize water loss during the cold winter months, an adaptation to help preserve moisture in their branches and trunks. Also, with decreasing daylight, less photosynthesis can take place and so a tree without leaves is in a state of dormancy and requires less energy to maintain. As trees start to “shut down” their photosynthetic power house in the leaves, chlorophyll; the pigment that harnesses light, breaks down and in doing so results in an array of different colours and hence the fantastic range of autumnal shades that we see across our woodlands.  It is of particular note when walking along the newly opened path that borders the entrance road as you now feel totally immersed in the reserve all the way from the reception hide. Now open, this access makes walking to the south side of the reserve much more pleasant and avoids any traffic on the approach road.

Visiting school children take part in a range of activities on the reserve but one of my favourites is to look at the trees and help them identify them by name. By using detailed identification keys children as young as 7 and 8 can learn how to identify trees from their leaves, their seeds and even their bark. By the time they leave most children will have a collection of leaves and pine cones wedged in their pockets that they can produce once back at school and confidently name. Local primary schools can visit the reserve free of charge and bookings are now being taken for the Spring term at

November highlights

Nature never really follows our human description of the seasons, so if you are thinking that the days are getting shorter and there is a long winter ahead take heed in the fact that for some animals on the reserve they are entering spring and setting up breeding territories. Tawny owls which are resident owls, and breed in the reception wood, have been calling during the day recently. Calls which are made to establish territories and secure mates, ready to start breeding. Foxes are also establishing their territories by scent marking and on a still winter’s day, this noticeable scent can be detected as you walk round the reserve. Breeding is certainly on their mind!
Bird sightings of note this month include large numbers of pink footed geese, 300+ being seen feeding on adjoining stubble fields. These are probably birds that are feeding down on the Humber estuary and then heading inland over the high tide period. Other wildfowl of interest have been up to 12 whooper swans that have been seen on both the “O” and “D” reservoirs and a long tailed duck on “D” res. Numbers of goldeneye, widgeon and teal are building up across the reserve. Smaller winter visitors; brambling, siskin and lesser redpoll, have been spotted using the reception hide feeders.