Thursday, 6 June 2019

Open day and opening

We're well into summer now and the annual open day is almost upon us, but there's been plenty of excitement already this year anyway.  It must be one of the most memorable breeding years to date on the reserve - success has been variable already but in diversity it must be unbeaten.  The marsh harriers were an early spectacle with some superb views of food passes etc Brian Blinkhorn:
However the pesky fox which cleared the marshes between 2015 and 17 has again overcome our defences.  In 2018 we finished the massive fencing project for summer leaving a 'horse shoe' - the open section at the rear being in deeper open water and too big a job to finish in time for nesting season.  We reasoned the obstacle was too big to overcome for the fox last year and we were rewarded with a great breeding season in 2018.  We assumed it would be the same for 2019.  Unfortunately though it appears to be skirting all around the perimeter of the fence, down the river bank, and then swimming across some very treacherous water to reach the interior and as such has cleared out most of the spits and is certainly active amongst the rushes of the northern archipelago - which is also where the harriers were active.
Whether it was the demise of the harriers is debatable.  Whilst they were active building and even mating, many suspected they were too young to breed - Jason Peacock:
Alas whichever, it has come to nothing although they are still present in the environs at North Marsh - where they were most displeased with this osprey filmed by Pat Hogarth:

The fox at least had the benefit of dislodging a rare summering bittern - Richard Horsman:  
So we know what we'll be doing this winter... Alas the same fate likely became the little ringed plovers which whilst still present are yet to commit anywhere - Sue Murray:
Common terns have been present albeit late this year.  Breeding is still to be determined with the best attempt seemingly on the cleared Watton NR islands.  Unfortunately one bird passed away in front of the Izzard hide - on closer inspection due to a prolapsed oviduct (egg bound) in spite of the valiant efforts of its upside-down ringed mate to keep feeding it until the end - Brian Blinkhorn:
 Roy Lyon:
Oystercatchers attempted to nest and got 3 chicks hatched on South Marsh West but were quickly predated.  Surviving gull chicks here points the finger at an avian predator; Perhaps the lesser black backed's which took the lapwings nesting on Hempholme Meadow - Steve Hines:
Sand martins have returned for a second year to the wall - Tony Platten:
Whilst some ungrateful individuals are excavating opposite the izzard hide.  The other digger proved elusive with kingfishers but a fleeting glimpse until last week when the first brood appeared - and for a change are favouring South Lagoon - but now spread all across site - Tony Simpson:
 Chris Barker:
The other stars have been the tawny owls seemingly now indifferent to their celebrity status - Steve Clipperton:
Higher up in the woodlands the herons go into their third year with at least two well developed chicks - Lynn Glasby:
Whilst the barn owls currently on TV in the reception hide are about to hatch out their 8 eggs - although how many of them will survive is up for debate:
A second pair also exists on the southern site - but on a different TV channel a new show rivals attentions; The Water Treatement Works kestrels - 5 eggs all now hatched and feeding voraciously:
Out in the wetlands wildfowl wise the garganey are a great addition and we assume a female is hidden away accompanying the two showy drakes - Brian Blinkhorn:
The goosander have been an enigma with at one stage a pair of birds present - Brian Blinkhorn:
For the first time in a while great crested grebe are attempting to nest - a nice accolade for the winter works in addition to the shelduck brood - Roy Lyon:
Otter too endorsing the works - Brian Colley:
Great spotted woodpeckers have already fledged - a nest above the main path going unnoticed by most.  Elsewhere cuckoo, grasshopper warbler and spotted flycatcher have all had a presence. 

So a varied year and plenty still to look forward to.  Spring wader passage made little impact this year - a few greenshank, common and green sandpipers, and sporadic whimbrel making little impression.  The only memorable beast was the long staying bar tailed godwit as a Tophill rarity - John Leason:
 Brian Colley:
Biggest rarity perhaps bird wise was the firecrest - John Leason:
Technically there have been fewer cattle egrets - but one gets the impression that the current bird feeding merrily amongst the bemused belted galloways is but the thin end of the wedge - Jason Peacock:
Chris Barker:
Steve Clipperton:
Spoonbill too is perhaps a bird we may see more of also - Lee Johnson:
John Barnard:
Autumn passage is the next thing on the horizon - and that's where all the main efforts are this year as spring has been so lacklustre.  Hopefully if the masses of fish fry outside Izzard hide are anything to go by it should be quite something.  However before all that we have the open day this Sunday the 9th.  It should be a great day with the exhibitor list now firmed up with the following;

Natural England - badge making and information
East Yorkshire Bat Group - conservation advice and live bat
Hedgehog rescue - Driffield and Langtoft - conservation adice
Holderness Hedgehog Hospital - conservation advice and fundraiser stall
Yorkshire Red Kites - Information stand
RSPB Bempton - Childrens activities and information
East Yorkshire Archaeology - local history information and river Hull artefacts
Second Nature Books - bird and wildlife book dealer
Duggleby's catering – sample some locally sourced beef or pulled pork sandwiches
Michael Flowers -   Birdwatching courses
Tophill Low Bird ringing team - survey work and demo on the reserve
John Naylor wildlife artist
East Yorkshire Rivers Trust - conservation info on local rivers
Yorkshire Water Biodiversity Invasive Non-Native Species team - advice on conservation and biosecurity
Humberside Police Wildlife crime unit - information and car
Tophill Low education Service - hands on craft and nature activities for children
Tophill Low moth demo - see the diversity of moths (10am)
Hull University – Zoology dept info on otters and grassland management
Green Future Buildings - builders of the Izzard hide - buy and construct a bird box and info
Josh Harrison Photography - wildlife photographer
Jan Taylor Wildlife Artist
Experience Community accessibility trust for disability users - advice and info
Cranedale Centre environmental activities for young and old
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Living Seas Centre - information and displays
Steve Shipley Wildlife Photography
Living with Water Partnership – Hull & Haltemprice - info on flood risk
East Yorkshire Badger Protection group - conservation information
Tophill Low Membership stand and tombola -
 fundraiser for local conservation charities

Hopefully you can join us on the day; Due to capacity please note standard car parking will be directed in the fields at Easingwold Farm with a 400m walk to the Reception hide.  Usual car park reserved for blue badge holders. 

Nearly finished too is the new fish pass at Hempholme Lock - an incredible engineering feat - more pictures to come:

The other exciting news is that for the first time in 11 years there is a job opportunity on the reserve!  Due to the popularity of the site and the want for me to undertake conservation projects for Yorkshire Water further afield we have a brilliant opportunity for a Nature Reserve Apprentice role.  Deadline for applications is the 21st of June.  For full information visit this link - its a wonderful and rare opportunity for someone. 

Make the most of summer - a whooper swan, two goldeneye and a pink footed goose in early June is a little ominous!!