Saturday, 30 June 2012


Friday was able to go ahead as originally planned as fewer showers were forecast & we were going somewhere with hides and most of those faced north and the strong winds were blasting from the south.  The most disappointing thing for me was that the winds were also in the worst possible directions for catching the unusual call of a Savi’s Warbler, which has been singing to the north east of where the hides are sighted at Blacktoft Sands.  Peter spotted a male Marsh Harrier in the fields to the south of the car park – it was to be a day of exceptional sightings of this raptor species.
Before we had even reached the Visitor centre the morning group had located an extremely confiding young Hare eating grass by the footpath.  This permitted me to get extremely close, actually too close.  I had to pull in my telephoto lens, and even so I was only able to obtain a head & shoulders shot.  We travelled first to Marshland hide we saw 6 Spotted Redshanks in their smart black summer plumage hunkered down with 2 bog-standard Redshanks and a few Lapwings on one of the tiny islands made of bricks.  There wasn’t much else here, just a pair of Shelducks and a Shoveler identified by Andy.

 Spotted Redshank (& 2 standard Redshank)
 Sedge Warbler
 Konik Pony
 Spotted Redshank (Coot & Mallard)
As we left the main area of hides there was one Reed Warbler which gave several excellent views, but too brief to be photographed.  The afternoon group saw this bird even more briefly, but had a much more prolonged views of a Sedge Warbler.  At Ousefleet there was more water than is usual for the time of year, so in addition to 3 completely different male Ruffs and a single Reeve, and a single Green Sandpiper there were plenty duck species, including: Shelduck, Teal, Tufted, and Shoveler.  In Xerox we only just failed to have a big fat zero, but we weren’t exactly overwhelmed with birds.  There were a few Tufted Ducks and Pochard just starting to go into eclipse, and 4 feisty Konik ponies.  Andy spotted a Little Grebe in the far left hand corner of the pool, while Caroline identified a Spotted Redshank, which spent a couple of minutes here before flying west.  
We leap-frogged 2 hides and made our way to Singleton.  There were relatively few birds here, in what can often be the most interesting hide.  However, there were a few Cormorants on the bare part of an island with Pochard and Tufted Ducks, but when 2 Crows flew in all the ducks left.  A Mute Swan sporting a ring flew in to this pool in the afternoon.  However, the best sightings here were the many Marsh Harriers – a maximum of 7 – hunting over the reserve.  It was noted that these were invariably male birds in the morning, but in the afternoon they were nearly all female-type individuals.  The birds were struggling in the stiff winds, but that also made them easier to photograph than usual as they attempted to control their position over the reedbed as they hunted, so the attached pictures of Harriers should be better than I’m normally able to obtain.

 Marsh Harriers
 Marsh Harrier - 1st time eye visible on one of my photos

Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Same, But Different

On Thursday we went to Tophill Low again because of a poor forecast; but because of the fruitless vigil for the Kingfisher yesterday we went south instead.  We could just make out 4 Avocet chicks on South Marsh East, and there were a few Common Tern chicks on South Marsh West and on Watton Borrow Pits.  Also on WBP was a Peregrine & when we were walking round O Reservoir Phil heard a squawking Common Tern looked up & there was the Peregrine heading North with the Tern seeing it off.  Only a few minutes after this 3 Crossbills flew along the edge of O Woods heading east.

Peregrine (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Peregrine (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Avocet (c) 2012 Richard Whateley
 Bee Orchid
 Burnet Companion (Thanks to David M Turner)

The wild flowers alongside O Reservoir were particularly lush, and there were plenty of orchids: Common Spotted & several spikes of Bee Orchids.  In the afternoon after the thunderstorms we caught sight of what was probably a female Black-tailed Skimmer, but there were precious few other insects about apart from a Meadow Brown & a Ringlet in the morning.  
The blood-curdling noises heard in North Lagoon were made by Marsh Frogs which seem to have taken over large areas of the reserve.  Phil was the first to spot the snout sticking up above water, and he was able to ensure everyone got to see it.  Both groups had views of Grass Snakes, but the longest was one seen in the afternoon near East Pond.  This was a first for Carol.  
At Watton Borrow Pits 2 Lesser Whitethroats were heard, so were probably about to embark on second broods.  In the afternoon Liz spotted an adult heron here, whilst the peeping of a Kingfisher could be heard as it passed by on the dyke below us, but was screened by the rampant vegetation.  However, the last occasion coincided with a passing Sparrowhawk, and this time the Kingfisher flew a little higher allowing itself to be glimpsed.   

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Quailing in the Heat

For the final Wednesday of the term we should have been at Flamborough, but the forecast was so ropey we switched to Tophill Low.  There were reports of 2 Quail the previous day & a Hobby nearly catching a Kingfisher, so hopes were high.  The forecast heavy showers never materialised with just a fairly short shower when we were in the North Marsh hide in the afternoon.  From this vantage point we had great views of Reed Warblers, and a singing Reed Bunting with more distant views of a skydiving male Sedge Warbler.  A Red Kite was soaring on the other side of the River Hull, and there were some fighting Moorhens, but the Kingfisher and Hobby let us down during both sessions.

Sedge Warbler
 Reed Warbler
 Reed Bunting
 Barn Owl
We followed the path round to the north end, and those having their coffee break in the hide had a Barn Owl fly past with a vole in its talons.  Meanwhile the remainder of us repaired to the new Hempholme Meadows hide.  Here, we could see 2 more Barn Owls hunting over the vegetation on the left.  There was also a singing Sedge Warbler in the area and a male Whitethroat.  A pair of Oystercatchers flew over the site, but the highlight was a Kingfisher which flew round the largest pool 3 times before heading off north. 
Record shot of Kingfisher (c) 2012 Tony Robinson
 Sedge Warbler
 Common Blue
 Grass Snake
 Grass Snake

We walked to the extreme northerly point of the site, where there were both male & female Barn Owls hunting, and we saw Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts, but were unable to hear any Quail.  The afternoon was pretty much a rerun of the morning, but we had closer views of a Sedge Warbler in North Marsh, we saw many more Speckled Woods, a couple of Meadow Browns, and a few Common Blues.  2 Grass Snakes were spied on the grassy mound with one in particular allowing everyone to crowd around and get point-blank views.   
Bee Orchid (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 Common Spotted Orchid (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart
 Heron (c) 2012 Aileen Urquhart

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Somewhere Old, Somewhere New

This morning we met at Kilnsea and walked north along beacon lane.  Almost immediately after passing the House Martin colony we heard a Lesser Whitethroat singing.   The remainder of the sightings were almost identical to the last visit on 20th June.  There were more butterflies this time with a Painted Lady, at least 4 Small Heaths and a few Common Blues.  When we reached the reedbed there was another Small Heath, a Cinnabar Moth & several Burnet moths emerging from their chrysalises.  
Cuckoo (c) 2012 David Tasker
 Painted Lady
 Small Heath
 Common Blue
 Burnet-Moth (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves
 Little Tern (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves
The best non-bird sighting from the hide was a female Emperor Dragonfly.  We saw the same birds from the hide as last week, and then we joined by Paul Collins and the Little Tern Warden and another helper. We heard that at present there are about 30 Little Tern chicks, so barring accidents of weather and the intervention of the usual suspects of Fox, Merlin, Kestrel, and crows it could be a successful year for these scarce breeders
 Meadow Pipit (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves
 Sandwich Terns
 Little Egrets
In the afternoon we risked going somewhere new: Kilnsea Wetlands. A flock of 30 Sandwich Terns were seen from the car park.  There was an Avocet on eg~Greenshank had flown into Beacon Ponds since our morning visit and there were more Sandwich terns, but there were few other differences.  The new area had potential, so will probably host a lot more species in subsequent year
Record Shot of Cuckoo (c) 2012 David Tasker
 Water Plant
 Juvenile Pied Wagtail (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves
 Cattle (c) 2012 Phil Hargreaves