Monday, 5 August 2013

Thriving with Life & Colour

On the first Saturday of every month Richard Hampshire leads a warden's walk around Tophill Low to make the most of the wildlife currently on display.  

At other times of the year there are plenty of birds to be seen, but early August isn't the peak time for masses of interesting birds.  I promised Ben Grass Snakes, but continual unbearable heat means that the conditions this weekend weren't the best to see those either.   At the moment it is quite warm enough for them not to need to bask in the warming rays of the sun.  

Despite these setbacks there were plenty of colourful flowers and butterflies to see.  To make the most of the available wildlife Richard decided on a southerly route.
Someone spotted a hairy caterpillar attempting to cross the road near South Lagoon, so Richard rescued it, and placed it out of harm's way among the vegetation.  The closest match in my caterpillar book seems to be Water Ermine, but it is not supposed to be found this far north!  Perhaps a White Ermine is more likely?
Water/White? Ermine Moth Caterpillar
 Water/White? Ermine Moth Caterpillar
There was a riot of colour around O Reservoir with Fleabane, various umbellifers, including Yarrow, and a couple of species of Knapweed and Thistles.  The Burdock was also coming into flower.  All these flowers attracted the nectarine insects, which included Soldier Beetles, Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Large Whites, and a few Damselflies and Dragonflies.  A few Silver-Y Moths, always on the move were also to be found in the long grass.
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar [aka Hull City Supporter]
 Silver-Y Moth
We were nearly halfway round the reservoir when I spotted 3 waders dropping into South Marsh West.  I also just managed to catch the calls, which indicated we may have had 3 Black-tailed Godwits.  Sure enough when we reached the L-shaped hide 3 of these waders could be seen attempting to feed among the lethargic ducks in eclipse.

The other highlight in this hide was a large dragonfly, which eventually settled on some greener directly under one of the windows - it may have been a Southern Hawker. 
Black-tailed Godwit
 Southern Hawker?
 Meadow Brown
 Meadow Brown
 Small Skipper
 Burnet Moth
 Large White
We continued to see more and more insects as we travelled round the southern part of the site which reached its apotheosis among South Scrub, which was a blaze of colour and insect activity.   There were a few birds to see on Watton Borrow Pits, but no new waders.  We carried on round O reservoir, but then Ben and I had to leave, as we had toe back in Hull for 12.45, or we'd be for the high jump.  Of course the others had time to visit D Reservoir and observe 2 Black-necked Grebes.  This would have been a new bird for Ben!

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