Thursday, 4 December 2014

Grey to white

The grey phalarope was very confiding during its prolonged stay at the reserve; the third in its history - so a welcome tick for many.  Final shot by Roy Lyon:
Perhaps a signal for its departure on the 22nd was an obvious movement of other species - the biggest highlight of which was a drake smew that turned up that morning - the first male for at least 6 winters.  Unfortunately after being harassed by coots perhaps jealous of its exquisite plumage it then departed to High Eske by that afternoon.  The following day a number of goosander arrived in too and Roy also snapped this female scaup which has been one of four amongst the tufties for a while:
5 whoopers arrived on the 23rd but changing conditions have seen more easterlies.  Disappointingly no further showing of short eared owls yet; but it was into December before they really got going in 2011.  Perhaps this has brought in the big flocks we've seen of late - up to 1000 lapwing spending the bulk of time on the ploughed fields of decoy, and anyone wishing to see a murmuration of starlings would be well advised to sit in North Lagoon hide at dusk as there are numbers of circa 2000 starlings wheeling over the reedbeds at the moment.  A small fall of woodcock so far with snipe and green sandpiper flushed from Hempholme today.  A lot of rain saw the river swell up briefly to levels not seen since 2012 - though it has since dropped again:
You may have caught us on BBC Look North - unfortunately we're having a spate of mink sightings at the moment.  We generally reckon on 2-3 mink a year since 2003 odd when trapping began, but this autumn's seen a huge peak.  We were pleased to have caught 4 in September, but no sooner another was caught last weekend, but trail cameras have revealed potentially another 4 still on the loose around the reserve.  Perhaps we are the victims of our own success with water voles this season.  Mink raft readied for action:
We're looking to potentially install further mink rafts beyond the reserve in the Hull Valley this spring with funding from Yorkshire Water - much like the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust did in 2003.  The idea being it will hopefully reduce the pool of mink always waiting in the wings to come in.  If you have responsibility for a waterway in the upper reaches let us know and we may be able to help. 

Another exciting project - thanks to our architects Ginger Group who have put together this vision of the new reception hide:
We're still working hard to deliver it as soon as possible - but at the moment it all depends on at what point we can access internal funding - and match it against the SSSI season on the Res's - but certainly it is hoped within the next 18 months.  And just for anyone who has already commented the res never looks like the North Sea - well sometime it does!;
Amongst good numbers of gulls present on the res have been Med gulls on the 29th, two on the 30th, yellow legged gull tonight, and up to six little egrets roosting on Watton.  Great white egret on the 21st flying south was a nice fund too.  This leucistic black headed gull was snapped by Roy Lyon:
Otherwise mild weather until late has seen the kingfishers continue to grace us on North Marsh - Brian Colley:
And water rails are still ten a penny - thanks to Steve Brimble for these:
And Darren Smith - both on North Marsh:
Mute swan coming in to land by Brian - hopefully not that massacred by a fox which dispatched one on Sunday morning:
Lots of kestrels too - Steve Brimble:
And a smart yellowhammer by Steve too:
Roe deer on Hempholme by Brian Colley:
Reserve Walk on Saturday morning at 10am for anyone wishing to try and see some of the above.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Every cloud a grey lining

Whilst the weather may have been dull and murky of late there was plenty to celebrate in grey.  The nest box team found this grey phalarope on Tuesday; thanks to Roy Lyon for these shots.
It was assumed disappeared (but likely here all along as so miniscule) until relocated by Lee Johnson on Friday night (along with a 3rd Caspian gull of the year) and has shown on D res all weekend - thanks to Martin Hodges for these shots (more on his blog):
Generally sticking to the walls it seems particularly interested in a couple of gull carcasses.  Also of interest in recent days too has been up to four scaup last Sunday with one remaining today.  3 red crested pochard were still present on the 10th, with four whooper swans the latest through on the 6th, and a pintail visited O res last week.  A peak of 4 med gulls since the last posting on D res on the 2nd. 

Watton NR saw an uncommon visitor in the form of a knot on the 11th, and Michael Flowers and his group had the second brambling of the year on the 14th.  Otherwise perhaps most notable has been a huge influx of water rails recently - 8 on south marsh west last weekend, with a further 3 heard on North Marsh on Friday and at least two more on the lagoons.  Thanks to Bruce Pillinger for this shot:
A jack snipe was present on South Marsh West today.  Grey Heron has also been about as per this collection by Andy Marshall:
Steve Brimble captured these images of the ability of grey heron to turn its hand to anything which comes close enough - in this case an apparent short tailed vole:
Still on the go despite the last posting saying they were on the wain are the kingfishers - Andy Marshall:
Otter showed four separate times last Sunday - as usual best off on North Marsh - Steve Brimble:
And Maurice Dowson:
Unfortunately Maurice also snapped this shady character at Hempholme Lock - the 6th American mink of 2014 so the worst spate in some time:
Another more balanced predator - Sparrowhawk by Steve Brimble:
And Bruce Pillinger:
Hen harrier reported yesterday and merlin today at the northern site with two barn owl.  Goldcrest keeping out the way - Andy Marshall:
And finding that a difficulty; Albino / Leucistic pheasant by Steve Hines:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cock a' whoop

A big influx in the main players for winter in the last few days. A lot of pink footed geese over and whooper swans have been through in the best numbers for some time - a total of 39 birds split between 3 groups - thanks to Roy Vincent for these:
And Michael Flowers:
The 5 red crested pochard are usually to be found somewhere on the reserve - a few nice shots here by Mal Jones:
Brian Colley:
And Roy Vincent:
We've also had a scaup on the Res in recent days and luckily Brian was also on hand to capture the slavonian grebe found yesterday on the reserve walk:
Alas not present this morning but replaced by the first brambling of the season near the lagoons.  The first woodcock was also flushed out last Saturday.  There have been further fleeting reports of short eared owls around the site but perhaps marsh harriers have been the raptor of the moment - some cracking pics by Darren Smith:
It seems as though kingfisher season may be at an end on North Marsh.  Annually as the water temperature decreases the sticklebacks descend into deeper warmer water and fishing becomes easier elsewhere - they'll be back again in late June.  That said Hempholme meadow is still popular at the moment - Michael Flowers:
Roy Vincent:
And Mal Jones:
Less susceptible to weather conditions are the otters - fishing as ever on North Marsh - Darren Smith:
Roe deer by Mal Jones this afternoon:
Plenty of activity around the bird feeders now with both willow and marsh tit present - Roy Vincent:
Mallards over the D res by Brian Colley:
Next weekend is our Wetland Bird Survey count weekend we undertake with the BTO - we're always after help to assist on count days (once a month) so please let us know if you can  assist - a good knowledge of wildfowl ID is a necessity for this. 
On the gull roost we've had a peak of 4 Mediterranean gulls on the res tonight with a Caspian gull last weekend - again all the details on Martin's blog.