Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Another new species for Tophill Low NR

One over exposed from me, one under-exposed from Doug Fairweather - but both are of the same Diurnea fagella I pulled out of one of the traps on Saturday morning. The latest new moth for the site. Doug got to the identification before me so credit goes to him. Fair to say, the moth trapping season has started rather well.

Made a dusk visit to Tophill tonight to look at the gulls. Once again failed to pick up a Med Gull, one or two of which have been reported in recent weeks. I must be losing my touch! The drake Scaup of the last few days remains on D Res and a drake Goosander roosted in the gloom.

Despite the coolish weather, a Piperstrelle spp was hawking the car park and a bat spp - sized in between Pip and Noctule, was flying along the edge of the res in front of the car park hide. It didn't have big ears so I can rule 4 species out but I'm rather stuck to what it was. Not my speciality bats in the gloom.

Pink Punksters hit Howden

Leaving the office is often the highlight of the working day. After the odd flyover in recent years, nice to finally see some Waxwings in a tree on the way to the car park. Sixteen birds on Station Road in Howden above the zebra crossing at 5pm made my walk to the car more cheery than usual.

Yesterday added Corn Bunting to my Howden list (I must add it up sometime). Considering this species was singing and viewable from my usual car parking space, I assume this species was accounted for when the environmental assessment was carried out before the car park was given the go ahead!!! Or whether the office bod who carried it out from textbook learning went 'Good nice and easy - Great Crested Newt - they can be relocated!'

Still waiting to account for some flyover Common Cranes... so close to the Lower Derwent Valley sometime during an outing to the shop I'm going to account for a flyover. Will have to be the case now I can see little sky from the window!

Going back to Sunday, headed out to Faxfleet to take advantage of the first day of Birding Summer Time. Ten Marsh Harriers made their way from Whitton Sands in the Humber/Trent/Ouse complex and on down the Trent east of Blacktoft Sands. Nothing else of note which was rather disappointing, especially as all the Harriers appeared to drift west on the south side of the viewing area.

Also, after last week's Badger, fresh road kill was spotted on Monday morning just north of North Cave. Albeit dead, 2 in a couple of days, a good distance apart, suggests I might see a few during my late-night drives home.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


BIRDING SUMMER TIME is here. I guess the season's new game now properly begins.

Time to enjoy!

100 moths in March...

The 3 bright lights set at Tophill Low NR attracted, despite the cold overnight temperatures, a good number of moths on Friday night/Saturday morning.

A shame we missed out due to work commitments of the working week, when warm nights were in the offing, but here are the totals - pulled out order, rather than the 'how you are supposed to do it order' I believe it is called Lepidoptera with a smile!

1 Engrailed, 5 Lead-Coloured Drab, 1 Red Chestnut, 11 Small Quaker, 12 Common Quaker, 7 Twin-spot Quaker, 35 Clouded Drab,46 Hebrew Character, 2 Satellite, 7 Chestnut.

Some of the pics from the traps...

Twin-spot Quaker

The Satellite (Tophill tick for me... I hide my head in embarrassment!)

Common Quaker

This one... Caloptilia stigmatella is probably new for the list. Doug Fairweather lucky enough to get some pics during the specimen's stationary moments!

Birding wise it was pretty quiet. Other than 17 Brambling on the feeders, the regular Pintail and Whooper Swan, and the usual Buzzards the birding fitted in with the day of dullness weatherwise. Bit of a downer to have heard a couple of Common Cranes flew over just before arrival mid-morning, while a Scaup and a Med Gull didn't provide enough of a distraction from tea drinking late on and fungi discussion.

Friday, 25 March 2011

The benefits of the shifts from Hell

Whatever the delights of the shift patterns on offer at work... I always try and find some enjoyment from doing them. They always allow for some time in the field. Not really worked the dreaded late shifts for a few years now but several times a week I'll be whizzing around the East Yorkshire countryside in the small hours.

Two tours this week turned up Badger, first one I've seen live since the last time I was on prolonged shifts of doom a few years back. Plenty of deer have been encountered in the headlights and numerous Barn Owls and Tawny Owls have made the drive more interesting. Add this little lot to seeing Red Kites and Buzzards daily, Goshawk was on the wing at one of the well known sites in the week per Neil Hart, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies then I don't actually have to go birding with my bins to enjoy life.

Also lots of moths on the wing, rather hard to ID at 60mph!!! Shame there is a chill in the air tonight, will deplete the moths coming to light at Tophill Low NR as I type! Though it is cloudy, so we'll have to see in the morning.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Migrants returning

Game on... first summer migrants. Having had singing Chiffchaffs on the way into Howden from the staff car park at work for the last 3 mornings, at long last some true summer migrants on offer on Saturday at Tophill Low NR reserve... several Sand Martins and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers on Watton Nature Reserve. Cold days are almost over... but despite the nice sunny day I'm working on another 34 days before my notebook gets busy with birds, moths and dragonflies. And that is me being honestly optimistic!

Moth trapping... well it is still early. After a cold night the usual numbers and species was expected with only Dotted Border, Hebrew Character, Clouded and Lead-coloured Drab (a Tophill mega - 3rd record) attracted to the lights.

Have to say as moths go, this is a pretty drab photo! Lead-coloured (bottom) and Clouded (above)

Hebrew Character is slightly brighter

Despite being out for a while, some smart Scarlet Elf-cups can still be viewed. A selection of some of the specimens on show.

One of my favourite birds is the Shoveler. I've never worked out why. Always real quiet apart from when they display to the females with a display of foul language... the calls have to be worded 'Shit, shit, shit' Having read, go out and listen... it does sound like that is what they call!!! Must be the thought of the commitment of spring!

This male was less than placid... seeing off others

Despite what folk say, you can still see Barn Owls in East Yorkshire. I've not really struggled to see any during the winter, though that is perhaps due to time in the field rather than sitting in, thinking the worst!!!

Flicking through blogs, and there are many, noticed today the arrival of the 2011 intake of old and new Farne Islands wardens. It was 1995 when I left Seahouses Harbour to spend 9 months living on an island... click on the Farne Island Blog to follow the life until December. I'm envious, wish I could go back.

Monday, 14 March 2011

The swinger's pool

With a splat, splat, and occasional plop into the pool for some fun, this lot announce themselves with a 'ribbit, ribbit'. These are creatures on a mission. A little light rain and this lot are mad for it.

The direction is water, though I'm not sure why they jump out and bounce around croaking to their pals.

The water is surely the best place to enjoy all the fun...

The one above left the pool to join me in the garage... I'm sure it croaked 'Great night! Can of Fosters mate? No dramas!'

A lot of fun to watch... hours of entertainment with the Common Frog. Makes the soaps look rather tame!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A day of two seasons

The morning started grey. A trip to a wood on the Wolds in search of drumming woodpeckers proved to be totally fruitless in the relentless drizzle. Not a single species encountered so a bit of a disaster!

Brightened up in the afternoon so I trundled to the new hide overlooking Watton Nature Reserve in search of a Smew or two to photograph. Only one was present and decided to stay just out of range for a semi-decent photograph.

The best are here...

A Mute Swan flying in off Watton Carrs proved to be the only other photo.

Incidentally, c200 swans were sat in the fields north of Leven Airfield on the Carr land. Several of the birds appeared to be Whoopers but at a distance of maybe 3kms, balancing my scope on a fence post, it was difficult to work out exactly how many Mutes and Whoopers where in the flock.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Knocking on the door of spring

The recent trend for Saturday's is for it to be grey and rather cold. Things are improving as today was grey, with occasional bright spells and mild, albeit when sheltered from the breeze.

Unfortunately, unlike other parts of Yorkshire, we didn't manage to get a first summer migrant at Tophill Low NR, but one or two other nice bits and pieces were on offer.

First stop for me was North Marsh to catch up with Tony McLean. Couple of Little Grebes fishing in front of an otherwise quiet hide allowed for a couple of images.

A good sized Grass Snake was on offer, taking to the water for a tour of an island.

A Buzzard spent a while bloggin around the area and some displaying Sparrowhawks put on a nice display to each other.

No doubt Tony managed some more cracking photos! Click here for some nice piccies.

At least one of the Smew remains on WNR and Pochards seem to know what time of the year it is! Plenty of them displaying to admiring females.

Highlight on WNR were the Roe Deer. This one sticking around long enough for a photo.

The best of the rest involved a few Woodcock and Doug Fairweather knocked off our opening butterfly of the year - a Peacock. The moth traps held a Lead-coloured Drab. Not the most inspiring but the second site record I believe.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Winks away

The delightful sound of proper geese was the highlight on Saturday. Wandering around Beverley town centre had several small groups of Pink Footed Geese and one large flock heading north, about 200 in all by 11am.

Spend the afternoon at Tophill Low NR. Another grey Saturday. The Smew remained and 4 Goosanders were on D throughout the afternoon. Two Pink-feet flew west with a probable White-fronted Goose.

Soon to be busy Saturday's now... might as well make the most of the quiet times!