Monday, 13 July 2015

Summer at Oppy Wood

The weather forecast wasn't great, so I decided to avoid a long trip today and popped in at a nature reserve nearby, Oppy Wood, just in the outskirts of Hull. This is a recently planted woodland, with plenty of paths, glades and meadows. It can get quite wet, but today the paths were all dry. It actually finished spitting by the time I got there, the clouds slowly broke and let some sun shine. It was quite warm and humid and insects were plentiful. On the western side of the reserve, near the ditch, an azure damselfly. I saw an unidentified darter and a larger, brown dragonfly (possibly a four spotted chaser, but they didn't settle for photos). Another frustratingly unidentified insect was a large female leafcutter. Male Eristalis intricarius and Volucella pellucens hovered on the glades over buzzing clumps of flowering brambles.
I found copse snails, Arianta arbustorum, resting on nettles, creeping thistle and hogweed leaves in the company of White-lipped and Kentish snails. All the ones I picked up, without fail, emerged rapidly from their shells as soon as I put them on my hand, in contrast to Kentish Snails, which remained inside their shell.
 There were quite a few Small Tortoiseshells on the thistles by the entrance, and a Comma. I started seeing Commas two days ago, and I've seen them every day.
Male Small Skipper on Creeping thistle
A male Volucella pellucens resting
Green-veined white
Goat's beard, Tragopon pratensis
Female Dronefly, Eristalis tenax
Azure damselfly
Copse snail, Arianta arbustorum 
Kentish (left) and Copse (right) snails, demonstrating different behaviour when picked up.
Large Skipper
Burnished Brass

Butterfly List

  1. Meadow Brown
  2. Ringlet
  3. Speckled Wood
  4. Red Admiral
  5. Small Tortoiseshell
  6. Comma
  7. Little Skipper
  8. Large Skipper
  9. Green-veined White
  10. Small White

Monday, 6 July 2015

Summer at Tophill Low

After the very tough challenge of not running over any bunnies in the drive to Tophill, which I passed by driving very slowly, I was rewarded with my best views of hares ever. I spotted a couple in a field ahead by a free range chicken farm, and stopped in a gap in the hedge just by the hares. They carried on with their business and paid no attention to the car.
 The morning was sunny and mild and I headed to the south side of the reserve. From the hide of one of the lagoons I watched a Kingfisher. Another flew past and the first one flew off chasing it.
 By the main road I saw my first Gatekeeper of the year, still very fresh.
This was a new hoverfly for me, of the genus Parhelophilus , feeding on hogweed
Later, on the banks by O reservoir I saw a clump of bee orchids on their peak
 This female Twin-lobed Deerfly, Chrysops relictus, decided not to go for me, sunbathing on the fence was preferable.
 There were plenty of damselflies about, mainly Common Blue, with several mating pairs. The sheltered path to the twin hides was great for insects. From one of the twin hides, I heard my first East Yorkshire Cetti's Warbler sing half a song. A Hornet flew past the hide at the same time.

A male Scorpion fly, Panorpa sp.
A Little Ringed Plover
Large Skipper
Small Skipper
Large White
Another new hoverfly for me, Anasimya lineata
A large click beetle, possibly Hemicrepidius hirtus, thanks to Barry warrington for the ID
Black-tailed skimmer, very skittish, would fly away if I approached to less than 5 m. I saw 4 males and several females, mainly by the path of O reservoir and on the way to Watton. At Watton, a nice couple showed me the Wood Sandpiper.
Red Admiral
On the pond at D woods there was a family of Moorhens. The first brood ones took care of their younger siblings. I spent some time at North Marsh. A Marsh Frog croaked a couple of times half-heartedly. The stay was livened by a hunting brown hawker, which didn't stop. A Four spotted chaser was also about.
A wasps nest inside the hide overlooking the D reservoir.
Common Centaury, thanks to Barry Warrington for reminding me of the name of this beautiful flower.
A female Ruddy Darter.
In Hempholme Meadows there were two pairs of Lapwing, one of them had chicks and they kept mobbing something flying over it very low. The view was obstructed by the vegetation. After quite a while the mobbed thing was a Grey Heron, which flew screeching, and being chased by three of the Lapwings.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Flamborough Head: North Landing to Breil Newk

This morning I travelled to Flamborough and parked at North Landing. I had been before at the landing itself, but I hadn't explored the cliffs to the east. The sea was flat, barely any breeze and very warm and sunny as I arrived.
I followed the clifftop path and soon, in one of the inlets of the landing a pair of Puffins made themselves visible. A flock of Linnets, including a very bright male, moved up and down the cliffs. Meadow Pipit sung their 'click-click-click' parachuting song with the backdrop of Skylarks. On the path I flushed a Painted Lady who settled shortly after.
 The young and old birds at the cliffs were panting due to the warm, sunny weather. When it clouded up at around 11 it became much nicer.
  I walked up to Breil Newk, an area which I had seen from the Yorkshire Belle boat before, but not from the clifftop. A photo does not do justice to this amazing place, watch this short clip to get an idea (the only thing you need to imagine is the smell of guano drifting from the cliffs).

There were many Shags on the rocks. In a little cave at the bottom of the chalk stack, the finger-like rock sticking out from the sea, a Shag nest with young. Somebody seems to have climbed the stack and placed a tyre on top, which is now a convenient nest for a pair of Herring Gulls.
 I came down to the North Landing itself for lunch, and was very entertained watching the House Martins, with their chirruping calls echoing as they approached their cliff nests. The nests are a bit hard to count, as they are quite camouflaged, but there must be at least 20 nests in this colony.
 These cliffs feel very wild: there are not fences keeping you from the cliffs, or artificial balconies. You get to see the birds as you follow the unfenced path on the cliff top and the views are amazing. The cliffs are not linear, but there are stacks, inlets and little headlands which adds to the variety and makes the viewing easy. The clifftop flowers were also fantastic. The only bird not breeding here is the Gannet, but I saw many passing by just offshore.
Painted Lady
North Landing
Guillemots with a chick, and a couple of Razorbills
Sea Pink on the cliffs
North Marsh Orchid, there was a large patch of them.
The very hot Kittiwakes on the cliffs
Kittiwake with chicks
Shag nest on Breil Newk
The King of the castle. A pair of Herring gulls with chick.
These Guillemots kept panting and left their wings half open to thermorregulate
Herring Gull on a cliff ledge
Kestrel hovering and Gannets passing by.
House Martin leaving nest
Curious Meadow Pipit. For a while I thought there was a cricket about, when I realised it was this Meadow Pipit.