Sunday, 30 January 2011

The end of January

Well nearly there, January over and done. Ended rather typically with 2 Smew, 3 Goosander and an assortment of regular wildfowl at Tophill Low NR.

Seems to be a bit of gull movement in recent days. Maybe 12,000 birds roosted this evening on D Res. After the Glaucous Gull in the the week and Saturday's Yellow-legged Gull, Neil Hart had a another Yellow-legged Gull, this time an adult, briefly on D Res mid-afternoon before it flew north, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull appeared for 5 minutes and departed rather quickly. Despite spending over three hours looking nothing good seemed to arrive, or to roost, despite the number of birds. However it keeps things interesting, not sure what will drop in next. Shame I'm office bound at dusk for a few days.

We did see Robin n Mick, and cups for Pixies and Elves

It was Saturday, hence back at Tophill Low NR. Now this doesn't bode well for this write up but the best photo of the day!

Well actually, it did get better! A few things to see, albeit none appeared close enough for good photos. A 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull (Mick!) appeared in the D Res roost amongst c9000 larids, a little down on last week's count, and no sign of this dead obvious Glaucous Gull seen in the week. Hmmm.... our white-winged monopoly took a hit there!

So the rest, D played host to a White-fronted Goose and a drake Goosander, O res held a Pintail, a Brambling was in the car park, the odd Buzzard and Barn Owl flew past, while 4 Woodcock were flushed as sundries of the fungi hunt.

The best of which were some rather past their sell by date Oyster mushrooms

However, not all was lost. Lichens might be fun to play with as Doug Fairweather picked out this a Cladonia spp which may be Pixie Cup, on one of the log piles

and also Chlorociboria aeruginascens Green Elf Cup. The stained wood is more often discovered than the actual fruiting bodies. Apparently, looks rather good in pieces of carpentary!

Always something, just got to keep an eye out for the small detail!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Alone on the beach

Another day on the coast. This cool weather keeps folk at home so I had the beach to myself today between Kilnsea and Easington.

The Slavonian Grebe was still on Beacon Ponds, and remains to far away for a decent photo. Other than 700 Brents and 250 odd Wigeon not much else. The sea had lots of Red-throated Divers, a group of 32 were sat off Easington and a few more appeared to be flying past though I didn't partake in any seawatching.

Spent most of the afternoon playing with the camera taking flight shots of Common Gulls as there was nothing large and white among the Larids on the beach.

And this group of Sanderlings were rather obliging...

Wasn't much to blog about last Sunday's trip to Spurn. A skien of 102 Pink-feet flew in off and south over the Narrows while no Snow Buntings could be found at the Point. Elsewhere, Neil Hart had a Little Egret on Swinemoor Common on the floods.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Everything is obvious when you look

Another afternoon at Tophill Low NR saw many friends year ticked and bits and bobs to spot.

The keen eyes of Keith Rotherham picked out a White-fronted Goose on D res in the most unusual of places... fast asleep on the second step below the derrick. Just the sort of place you would expect to find one, rather than out on the open water of the reservoir with the 'Lag flock!!! A Smew at dusk made up the rest of the birding and once again there was nothing good in the gull roost come last light.

The fungi, well it did pop up in conversation that what got found at the south end was like spending time looking at Blue Tits and Chaffinchs as a birder! A tad tedious in other words!

But it got better! The second clump of Yellow Stagshorn found this winter (the second clump found at Tophill as far as we know) was the highlight then it was a case of finding some good bits to photograph.

Last weekend, several clumps of Velvet Shank were thought of as 'next weekend these will make a great photo'. Not to be as they either got eaten or the weather got to them. However, we did find this little group on a log in D Wood.

The Scarlet Elf Cups are appearing but haven't quite got going yet. These the best of the few on show.

Discreet, but seemingly everywhere, is Candle-snuff fungus. It might be common but some clumps of it are stunning.

And if anyone spots areas under the Beech trees that look like a Wild Boar has been turning the leaf litter and the ground over, then they are where Doug was searching with his stick. After searching for a while, not for the first time, he finally found some Beech mast Candle-Snuff... thats the little bit of white on each mast!

Putting the only foot forward

So found today at Tophill Low NR. One foot. Currently sat in a pot next to where I'm typing. No body, no feathers, snapped off just above the ankle and it has some rather tasty talons... open to the floor for comment!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Cold day down the beach

Very few folk at Spurn as Neil Hart and I enjoyed the cold cloudy conditions. Nine very confiding Snow Buntings scuttled around on the beach near the green beacon at the Point.

Six of the group of nine. I couldn't get them all in one frame!

A Slavonian Grebe was at Beacon Ponds NR showing on and off. Around 500 or more Brent Geese were present, as expected the majority 'Dark-bellied' birds but several 'Pale-bellied' were noted, although on counting the entire flock took off!!!

Late afternoon, 19 Whooper Swans were in the fields at Skeffling, and last light at Welwick turned up a cracking male Hen Harrier and a ringtail.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A gull... any thoughts?

So at last, something that captured my interest in the Tophill Low NR gull assortment. Apologies for the poor quality pictures. The bad light, then heavy rain and the great distance means these are pretty poor and hence are well cropped to show an image! But if you click on them, maybe the bird on the right gives up its identity to you.

Have any thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment. Unfortunately the bird flew off during the heavy rain and I didn't get any more pictures.

Whistling Wigeon

The Wigeon on D Res at Tophill Low NR seem agitated at the moment. Very vocal and lots of flying around. Unhappy with the gunshots going off nearby, or maybe getting ready to move further north as we seem to be unseasonally warm at the moment.

Still the 'redhead' Smew finds D to its liking, not sure how many are around at the moment. Not many appearing on D Res at dusk.

After yesterday's picture of Doug Fairweather enjoying, and photographing, that crust on a pine, here is one of the pictures he took.

At the minute, we can't put a name to it, any contributions are welcome.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Still searching

Typical Saturday. Tophill Low NR, a few birds and any subject matter we could find other than birds to brighten the none birding periods!

This 'crust' on a log in D wood took a while to relocate from last weekend... hopefully we can work out what it is!

Doug Fairweather on the case getting his pics.

This Turkey Tail was on an adjacent log...

as was this Jews Ear.

Other than these, lots of Candle-Snuff fungus, Velvet Shank, a few Scarlet Elf Cups, Dead Man's Fingers and some way past their best Dyrads Saddle made up the rest of the interest.

A few birds around. A pale Buzzard (which sparked interest momentarily) flew west over D Res and carried on. A minimum of 12 Bullfinch included a flock of 9 at the north end of the site and 5 Woodcock were flushed whilst searching for fungi.

A redhead Smew roosted on D res and the highlight of the gull roost was the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year. At least looking through the Larids at dusk was warmer than of late!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Another Tophill Low roost

Back at Tophill Low NR again this evening. At least one 'redhead' Smew roosted on D res and 3 Goosander included a cracking drake.

'Redhead' Smew in poor light

Once again, despite looking hard there was nothing noteworthy on the gull front.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Tophill again

With a rather cold wind blowing, it was a case of choosing which location would be the least cold place to visit... immediately ruling out Spurn or the harriers in the Humber/Trent area.

So it was decided to spend the afternoon sat at Tophill Low NR again. The 13+ Whooper Swans present on the carrs opposite the chicken farm just east of Watton last weekend reappeared. Apparently seen during the week near Wilfholme.

The gull roost once again held nothing other than the regular variety of commoner species, though 2 redhead Smew and a Goosander roosted, while a Pink-footed Goose came in with the Greylag flock late on.

A few more Great Crested Grebes are now appearing as D res is nearly ice-free. This the only bird of note to come close enough for a photo.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Common sense approach saves cash

The long weekend started Friday. Good birds in Yorkshire on the pager... female Lesser Scaup, Ring-billed Gull and the odd Coues's Arctic Redpoll. It didn't take long to think maybe I'd give them all a miss.

The reasons why, other than wasting petrol...

1) I've bumped into a few Lesser Scaup much nearer home.

2) Have found Ring-billed Gull from my accomodation window once before - OK one was when I lived in Penzance viewed from my flat window on a roof and was hardly an ID challenge,


3) I've seen, and found, Coues's Arctic Redpolls in the past without having to walk anywhere.

I'm sure it made a great day out for a few folk who needed them, and the twitching fraternity! But more fun to find your own without someone's help, Lesser Scaup will be added to my self-found list at some point perhaps and I've saved my cash for something more worthwhile.

So it was a trip to Tophill Low NR. Peeing down, foggy and cold late-afternoon! 1000+ Herring Gulls the highlight and despite searching hard, that was as good as it was going to get.

Saturday, I was once again back at Tophill with Doug Fairweather. The fungi foray was rather quiet, just bit of Velvet Shank around (pictured), a little Yellow Brain and some Scarlet Elf Caps starting to come through. In a short while they should make for a nice spectacle across the woodland floor in D Wood.

Birdwise, the usual suspects appeared. A Bittern did a short tour over D Res, doing a better job of rearranging the assorted ducks than any numpty looking over the wall waving his arms could! It eventually appeared to land at the north end of North Marsh after causing chaos. A Willow Tit and up to 6 Brambling showed well in the car park, a Lesser Redpoll was in D Wood with a small gang of Siskin, and 4 Woodcock were flushed, a byproduct of searching for fungi.

The D Res gull roost once again held a good number of larger larids, albeit nothing special. A couple of redhead Smew roosted as did a couple of Goosander.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Mothing from the armchair

The dark cold nights of late haven't really been great for moth trapping! However, there is that file of pictures from last summer to go through which need names putting to them.

On the case, the indefatigable Doug Fairweather has been putting the dark nights to good use and uncovered another first for the Tophill Low NR Lepidoptera list that came to light during 2010... Hedya salicella.

Pictures from Doug Fairweather

Monday, 3 January 2011

Another chilly vigil

It was another cold one at Tophill Low NR this afternoon as once again I watched the sun go down and birds come in to roost on a semi-frozen D Res. Plenty of Goldeneye late on during proceedings, here are some nice males in another poor quality dusk photo!

A redhead Smew dropped in late-afternoon and 2 Goosanders also came in just before last light. However, there was a definate decrease in the numbers of birds present on the slowly thawing res... and few gulls appeared with maybe just 1500 roosting.

Looking ahead, the dreaded normality of work returns. Though come dusk on Tuesday, maybe I might not be so cold!

You like OWLS???

Little ones anyone... click here

I best add a link to Duffbirders site here

I get a few hits from Duff's blog link... it is a good read, though I don't have speakers on my machine which might be fortunate...

Thank you

Whether it be through word of mouth, which is how the idea has tried to run, or the other sites that have added a link, or links, to this blog, or just the people that found it by accident around the world, somehow an average of around 500 readers have hit the blog per month since I started typing back in April! All we can say is thanks to all the readers and linkers!

We, the contributers, Mr Doug Fairweather, Mr Neil Hart (he got 7 lifers last year) and myself (the typist who spends not enough time out in the field), have no idea who clicks on and reads the texts, but I guess if you do, I hope the blog is 'an alright read'. Feedback has been great... but it is all word of mouth so if someone could type something 'pro-blog' on here then that would be grand. I would also like to thank those that have commented during 2010, constructive advice is always welcome, and for the readers that have commented on the fungi pics I give you a big thanks.

We aim to publish more of our sightings here after our escapades out into the field, and write-ups will no doubt increase when the temperature warms a little.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Gulls... last minute Ansers during a moment of reflection

A preview of the big event... it is down to angles and a bit of luck when the gulls begin to pack in this tight... and this picture is before any arrive!

So as the light slowly disappeared on the second evening of 2011, I found myself sat overlooking the D Res gull roost at Tophill Low NR for the second time this year. And once again I ended up questioning myself as to why I decide to endure this.

The February of 2000 saw me enjoying the extravaganza of gulls coming in to roost on D Res for the first time. Masses of them, maybe 40,000 that evening. After losing count a long time ago of the number of cold winter evenings, cups of tea, semi- frozen Kipling pies, and how ever many hundreds of thousands of gulls I've scanned over, I still seem to enjoy looking through this huge spectacle of between 2000-20,000 birds coming in to roost... and leaving happy in the knowledge that nothing really interesting arrived other than big northern Herring Gulls and the few potential heinei candidates over the years! It has to be a strange and bizarre addiction I have!

The statistics prove it! Glaucous last appeared in 2009, Iceland way back in the winter of 2004/05 if memory serves me correctly though the period 2000-2004/5 was pretty good... I remember one chilly December evening both Glauc and Iceland were present! Meanwhile, Yellow-legged is an unexpected occasional bonus and Caspian Gull (I'll admit to throwing probably one or two really good ones away over 10 years) is still to be added to the site list, making it less common than Laughing Gull... and that was a 'short-time' wonder going back into the last millenia!

The big brutes line up... annoyingly all come with black primaries.

So how did my addiction bring me a high tonight? Well scanning the gulls didn't turn up anything out of the ordinary as usual other than 2 or 3 good looking 'proper evil looking' Northern Herring Gulls to far away to photograph, but as the light faded a couple of Goosander came in to roost and the Goldeneye numbers swelled.

First-winter Goldeneye pre-dark

And as my enthusiasm dwindled (and cursing started) some decent sounding geese dropped in right on last light as 9 Eurasian White-Fronts arrived with c320 Greylags. (A few White-fronts on the pager today from East Yorks).

White-fronted Geese in the dark!

But as I left tonight, looking at all the shutters shut on the hides, and arriving to an empty car park as 'D' held the highest number of birds all day, and no doubt the best species of the day, maybe these were tonight's Ansers I was searching for to justify yet another cold vigil over the res!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year arrives

Birds are starting to reappear after the cold temperatures of last month. A good number of Whooper Swans were in the fields east of Watton today - 14 birds in one group and either some of the same birds, or 3 others, appeared on D Res at Tophill Low NR, which also held up to 5 Goosanders at dusk.

This Kestrel posed along the approach road on the fenceposts.

But at least the fog has gone... this was Wednesday's view over D Res.