Saturday, 2 April 2011

Favourable conditions allow us to be busier than usual

The early morning grey clouds and showers didn't spoil a busy Saturday at Tophill Low NR. A lot of things to see, identifications to sort and plenty of signs of spring - even when the sun wasn't out!

Plenty of moths in the traps. Highlights included Early Thorn (pictured above and below) and a Pine Beauty among the regular expected species.

Pine Beauty

Diurnea fagella was a site first last week. This (below) one of several encountered in and around the traps. Some rather rough surveying uncovered 49 today when we searched both the traps and the trunks of the oak trees at both ends of the site. Unsurprisingly, we didn't find any of the flightless females but it would appear that the species is present in small numbers.

Finally caught up with a 1st summer Little Gull when one appeared on D res early afternoon. Either the same bird that has been appearing or another moving through. Certainly, whilst looking through the gull roost twice this week (Tues and Fri), no Little Gulls have been present, so maybe there are a few going through. A few more migrants in, with singing Willow Warblers, many Chiffchaffs and up to 80+ Sand Martin and a handful of Swallows over D. A few Bramblings remain and a light passage of Meadow Pipits involved a minimum of 20-30 birds moving north from 9.15-10.30 as I birded by ear waiting for fellow moth trappers to arrive!

A few folk obviously turned up for the drake Scaup that has been on D for a while. It was present there around 9am but then disappeared... cunningly hiding away on South Marsh East with assorted Aytha and spending the majority of the time asleep!

Though it did wake up on occasions.

Doug Fairweather and me have had a one Hevella conundrum over the last week. Between us, last weekend we found a number of specimens in new areas of the reserve after finding one last year and they didn't look quite right. Pretty certain though, after collecting and comparing specimens, that they are all Sooty Cup - which means we don't need to send a parcel down south - but if anyone thinks different then please comment. All constructive help appreciated.

A few other nice bits around. This stand of Wood Blewits are showing well by one of the gates, but will be missed by many.

The Scarlet Elf Cups still remain... albeit a little passed their best

The best of the rest, well the only others we found were a small stand of Sulphur Tuft and some St George's Mushrooms.

Many other insects are now on the wing. This Bombylius major pictured by Doug was one of up to 10 we encountered around the site.

Add in up to a dozen Grass Snakes - none which posed, numerous spiders (Doug seems to be on their case at the moment - 'haps I will blog his new photography pot) and a semi-exhaustive search (note emphasis on semi!) for Large Red Damselflies - 15 days 'til they might be out and the only way to break your earliest date is to look earlier - then it turned out to be a busy day.

A lot of fun, but to be honest... did we really see that much? Season is just starting!

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