Monday, 31 May 2010

Sheltered sunny spot

Out of the wind and in the sun is the best place to be.

Another trip to Tophill Low in search of posing Hairy Dragonflies and once again no pictures.

A single male Hairy was on the wing in North Marsh, 4 Broad-bodied Chasers were in the D Wood pond area showing splendidly to all who cared to ask what 'the bright blue fast things were' and 16 Four-spotted Chasers were encountered north of the car park.

From D wood pond we have some Broad-bodied Chaser pictures...

This female was difficult to photograph, being constantly harrassed by the males in the area, though it did linger long enough while ovipositing to allow this record shot of the event, despite the overhanging vegetation.

Bored with the posing, 'put a stick next to a pond and they'll land on it' easy to photograph Four-spotted Chasers, I decided to have a go at them in flight. More of a challenge the speeds they fly at!!!

Blown down Leven Canal

A rather strong wind spoilt the quest for a decent picture of a Hairy Dragonfly at Leven Canal.

Still managed to see one, albeit briefly. Other than that a few Four-spotted Chasers and several Large-Red Damselfly braved the cold wind.

The best of the pictures was this 'cold' Four-spotted Chaser.

Damp grey Saturday at Tophill

Grey clouds, nasty drizzle. Not great. The best of the beasts encountered was this Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus

The Drinker caterpillars on Drinker Drive get bigger... this one looking rather smart wearing drops of water!

This Blood Vien was rather photogenic having been kicked out of the grass.

And the best of the dragonflies was this pre-flight Four-spotted Chaser... and accompanying exuvia.

Not seeing much from the office window!

Quiet week... the best of it a Holly Blue in Howden!!! zzzzzz

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Hairys hit 50 in hot sun

A huge count of Hairy Dragonfly today at Leven Canal. An astonishing 54 were counted along the three sections of the waterway from Carr Lane bridge walking west. Bearing in mind that not all of the canal is easily viewed, and Hairys aren't always the easiest thing to see, the number of individuals could have been much greater.

Records were also reported from other sites in the East Yorkshire area in the last couple of days, check out for more information and great pictures.

Also on the Leven Canal count I recorded:- 14 Large Red Damselfly, 2 Common Blue Damselfly, 9 Azure Damselfly, 2 Blue-tailed Damselfly, 410 Red-eyed Damselfly and 81 Four-spotted Chaser.

At nearby Pulfin and High Eske NR 4 Large Red Damselfly, 2 Common Blue Damselfly, 27 Azure Damselfly, 4 Blue-tailed Damselfly and 12 Red-eyed Damselfly.

Pictures from Leven Canal included these:

Four-spotted Chaser

Red-eyed Damselfly about to oviposite...

and in flight! Practice will make perfect hopefully!

Finally, a rather annoyed Lapwing which has a hatred for corvids and humans at Eske Carr...

Horny beast

The earliest date that this stunning creature has been found at Tophill Low and surrounding area I believe, unless there are other records of this magnificent thistle and hogweed dweller out there. Now recorded for the fourth year in succession, unless other records are forthcoming... much better looking than the other longhorns that appear.

Some nice pictures of Agapanthia villosoviridescens

And the scientific name is a struggle to get the tongue around... but sounds so much better than Golden-Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle!

Rewards of the dragon's den

The hot sunny weather provided an excellent day's dragonfly spotting at Tophill Low. A count by Doug Fairweather and myself over the site recorded:- 40 Large Red Damselfly, 41 Common Blue Damselfly, 855 Azure Damselfly, 23 Blue-tailed Damselfly, 18 Red-eyed Damselfly, 30 Four-spotted Chaser, 8 Broad-bodied Chaser and 3 Hairy Dragonfly.

Here are the best pictures...

Broad-bodied Chaser

Large Red Damselfly in tandem

Red-eyed Damselfly

The best of the moth traps included a Flame Carpet, a few Poplar Hawkmoths, Sandy Carpet, Spectacle and Pebble Prominent.

Sandy Carpet

Pebble Prominent


The butterflies in number were disappointing given the weather but, in no order, we managed 9 Green-veined White, 4 Orange Tip, 6 Peacock, 8 Speckled Wood, 2 Comma, 4 Small White, 4 Small Copper, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Holly Blue, 2 Wall, 1 Common Blue and 1 Large White.

Poplar attraction

Normally attracted to the MV lights on a weekend at Tophill Low, resident moth man Richard Sears wears the catch of Poplar Hawkmoths.

Depressa wait over as sun shines

A nice picture of Friday evening's Broad-bodied Chaser at Langton Wold, near Malton, from Doug Fairweather.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Hairy highway

With Spurn being so quiet, I decided to head back to Leven Canal to take advantage of the weather and count a few dragonflies and hopefully Hairy Dragons flying along the length of what I know as the Hairy highway!

An excellent afternoon with plenty to see:- 7 Large Red Damselfly, 3 Azure Damselfly, 1 Common Blue Damselfly, 4 Blue-tailed Damselfly, 78 Red-eyed Damselfly, 5+ Hairy Dragonfly and 28 Four-spotted Chaser.

The best way to see the Hairy Dragonflies at Leven is to park in near the small bridge at the end of Carr Lane, next to Leven Canal and walk west along the footpath to the north.

Also this evening from Langton, near Malton, an immature male Broad-bodied Chaser was on the wing.

Early morning at the Spurn

At some ungodly hour I found myself sat at The Warren hoping to see birds pass south. Unfortunately rather quiet... though the banter was rather good amongst the early risers! The best in the nets was a Garden Warbler while a Corn Bunting sat on the wires and a Barn Owl hunted over Clubley's. Point Dunes and Wire Dump were also particularly dull birdwise but a nice trundle round in the burning sun... so much better than Wednesday!

Small numbers of Swallow passed south, I counted c114 south by noon (obviously many more went thru after I left The Warren), a few House Martins, 4 Swift south, 1 Little Egret, and 181 Brent Geese of The Narrows the best of it. However, the Browntail caterpillars showed well!!!

The sun burns at the Narrows

What a difference a new day makes... discarding the mittens and the wooly hat to enjoy the burning sun and light sea breeze. Sitting at The Narrows was rather pleasant...

The best of the records 12.15-18.00 - 1 Gannet south, 156 Brent Geese, 1 Little Egret north, 1 Hobby north, 4 Whimbrel, 1 Swift south, 274 Swallow south, 5 House Martin south, 4 Sand Martin south, a flava Wagtail south.

The best of the rest was a Common Blue, 4 Wall, and a couple of Peacock.

As it was so quiet, I spent a bit of time sat among the Turnstones on the hide tide mark of the Humber...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Freezing Narrows

The temperature indicator on the car plummeted as I headed coastwards early afternoon from balmy Beverley - to what became almost a shiver at The Narrows, Spurn early evening.

The best of the observations from The Narrows 16.00-18.00 included:- 87 Brent Geese, 4 Tufted Duck south, 16 Sanderling (walked north along the beach), 2 Little Tern, 2 Razorbill south, 66 Swallow south, 2 House Martin south, 1 Sand Martin south, 1 Wheatear north and a Whitethroat.

In dull conditions, the best of the photos was this Sanderling at the end of Spurn Point. The grey of the sea mirroring the colour of the sky!

Stopped off at Welwick in search of the Purple Heron but no sign by 7.30pm, though 2 Little Egrets brightened the grey conditions.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hairy no show but Temminck's Delight

Another trip to Tophill Low, but the search for Hairy Dragonflies turned up nothing. Hopefully, another week or so and a few more should be on the wing.

A good count with totals of 39 Large Red Damselfly, 231 Azure Damselfly, 19 Common Blue Damselfly, 1 Blue-tailed Damselfly, 1 Red-eyed Damselfly and 7 Four-spotted Chaser.

The best of the pictures was this Four-spotted Chaser.

Bird of the day, despite not being the brighest individual, was the Temminck's Stint on Watton NR, which fortunately remained from yesterday, showing well mid-afternoon. Two Turtle Doves appeared in South Scrub and a Willow Tit was in D wood.

Plenty of Orange Tip on the wing. Jeff Barker and myself had at least 12 up and down the site. Perhaps we should have counted properly. Also, 2 Brimstone and a Holly Blue in the car park late afternoon.

The 'in flight' practice shots are improving albeit slowly...

North Marsh Nibblers...

A quiet evening spend at North Marsh at Tophill Low. No sign of the Purple Heron from here though not sure if was seen at all today.

The best that could be managed was this Water Vole... except it decided to flick it's head when the shutter went! Constantly on the move, and constantly nibbling, provided a few hours of amusement but very few photo opportunities.

No sign of any Otters. The best of the rest was a Cuckoo, Barn Owl and either one, two or three Sparrowhawks which hurtled out of D Wood early evening over the marsh and hit the small passerines targeted each time...

Monday, 17 May 2010

More from the weekend

A selection of the pictures taken at the weekend by Doug Fairweather. From Langton, near Malton, the trap included this Shears among other things.

Also from Langton comes this image of Kretzschmaria deusta (Brittle Cinder)... looking much more healthy than the specimen found at Tophill Low.

From Tophill Low we have Epiblema scutulana. Apologies for the test tube surrounding it! Best that could be managed without taking the top off!

Moving on to Slime mould... Enteridium lycoperdon below...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Keeping up Appearances in the Hull Valley

After last year's appearance at Tophill Low it was fantastic sight to see once again. Certainly as far as VC61 records go the earliest... perhaps the earliest in Yorkshire ever!!!

Looking the best it can in poor light, and halfway up a tree somewhere in D Wood at Tophill Low, here we have Tophill's sixth confirmed record... I remember the others that were obviously Hairys but didn't get pinned down...

Below are the best record shots.

Now to let you in on a little secret. Hairy Dragonflies, as well as being seen at Tophill Low last year, were also seen at Broomfleet Washlands and at Leven Canal walking from the east to the west. How far you walk to see one is up to you - I guess it depends how good your eyes are! Please note that weather conditions play a big part but they are there... trust me. I think the dates for last year are still on the dragonfly archive sightings page, but they are on the wing until late June/early July at least.

Keep up to date with the latest dragonfly sightings in VC61, and some cracking pictures at:-

And don't forget to submit any sightings. Surely Hairy Dragonflies aren't only seen at the 3 sites mentioned above? There must be scope for someone to see and photograph one elsewhere.

So onto the highlights of a good day at Tophill Low.

Dragonfly totals - counted with Doug Fairweather and ERDragonfly... 81 Large Red Damselfly, 70 Azure Damselfly, 29 Common Blue Damselfly, 12 Blue-tailed Damselfly, 2 Red-eyed Damselfly, 1 Hairy Dragonfly and 8 Four-spotted Chaser.

The best of my pictures today.

And the best of the rest. Well the moth traps caught a few moths, several Swallow Promient, Flame Shoulder, Hebrew Charactor and Powdered Quaker. One Horse Chestnut Leaf Minor moth was at a trap at the North End of Tophill which also held this Poplar Hawkmoth

This Acanthosoma haemorrhiodae was in Sgt. Major Wood

Here we have Mesembria meridiana

And on the orchid front, Common Twayblade looks like it will be in flower soon.

As ever, this write up is only the day's worth of interest we made out of our day. And on the birding front we actually failed to do any!

Keep up to date with the latest sightings and events at Tophill Low with the Warden Richard Hampshire at