Monday, 11 June 2018

Walking the Humber. Stage 15. Kilnsea Wetlands and the Spurn Triangle

A sunny, warm day I headed to Kilnsea for the penultimate stage of Walking the Humber, featuring the area south of long bank: Kilnsea Wetlands, Beacon ponds and the 'Spurn Triangle' up to the Warren, including the new YWT Spurn Discovery Centre.
 I park at Kilnsea Wetlands and walk to the hide. A Four-Spotted Chaser is hunting and resting on the drain by the path to the hide.
Kilnsea Wetlands
This is a very new nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, only a few years old, but that has developed and matured quickly. It consists on several scrapes and is grazed by sheep, including a Hebridean flock. It was created to compensate for the loss of wetlands in the area due to coastal erosion. Many birds use it, including waders at high tide. Today it was busy, with families of starlings feeding on the edge of the main pond. A pied and a yellow wagtail hovered just over the water surface capturing insects. The Yellow Wagtail was carrying food for young. There were at least two pairs of Avocets, and two chicks. Mute Swans, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Greylag and Mallard, the last two with young, were about. Skylarks sung over the reserve.
As I left the hide, a Painted Lady was sitting on the path, and a Large Skipper and a Wall Brown butterfly were also about.
The only Black-bellied Brent Geese I saw today was grazing at Kilnsea Wetlands.
This Little Egret was very successful fishing Sticklebacks.
Painted Lady, this individual with tattered wings is likely to have travelled from the Mediterranean. My first one of the year.
Hovering Yellow Wagtail.
Now with a bunch of insects for its brood.
Yellow Wagtail and Avocet chick.
Wall Brown.
Beacon Ponds
This set of lagoons and sand dunes, now being eroded by the sea has held a Little Tern colony for over a century. The colony of about 25-30 pairs is wardened and surrounded by an electric fence to protect the nests on the ground. Beacon ponds often has  and many other birds. Today there were some Sandwich Terns, several Avocets, a Cormorant, a Dunlin and two Oystercatchers, in addition to the Little Terns of course!
Blue-tailed Damselfly.
Two Little Terns by their sand and shingle colony.
Sheep grazing by a scrape covered on flowering crowfoot. The sound mirror in the background.

Beacon Lane
I move onto Beacon Lane, usually really good for invertebrates. There were several patches of Bird foot trefoil in bloom, with several Common Blue butterflies on them.
Male Common Blue
Reed Bunting singing.
Female Common Blue.
Spider for ID.

The Triangle
I walk east by Easington Road towards the Crown and Anchor to walk by the Humber towards Canal Scrape. Families of starlings feed by the sea wrack. The tide is quite low and it is starting to get warm.
A Small Heath on the Blue Bell car park.
A family of Starlings feeding on flies on the sea wrack.
Emperor dragonfly on Canal Scrape.
A large and stunning soldierfly, a female Flecked General Stratiomys singularior (I think, awaiting confirmation). It is a species of grazing saltmarshes.
Four spotted chaser on Canal Scrape.
The Mute Swan pair of Canal Scrape had 8 young.
A rabbit in the Warren.
Canal Scrape and Clubley's Scrape
After lunch in the cafe of the Discovery Centre, I spend some time watching dragonflies around Canal Scrape Clubley Scrape (above) and the newly dug ponds near the Discovery Centre. Black-tailed Skimmer were very obvious, I only saw males, some immature. The Four spotted Chasers fought them off repeatedly. There was a resident male Emperor in at least 3 of the ponds. I found a darter but I couldn't get a good view or a photo. 
Black-tailed Skimmer.
Male Emperor taking a break on the edge of the pond.
An ovipositing Four spotted Chaser female. She dips her abdomen in the water repeatedly and you can see the ripples on the water where she just did.
A view of the Discovery Centre from the sea bank.
As I returned to the car, pairs or trios of Swifts, probably non-breeding individuals, were already migrating south.
Next and final stage will feature the lighthouse and Spurn Head peninsula.
Today's walk, about 9.6 km.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sunny afternoon around Hull Bridge, Tickton

Another sunny afternoon after a cloudy, cool morning, I head to Hull Bridge at Tickton, back to the River Hull. I'm hoping to find Banded Demoiselles, Calopteryx splendens, a species that is not very common east of the Wolds, but that in recent years it has established itself in some stretches of the river Hull. I park right by the bridge over the Beverley and Barmston drain and right on cue, just as I leave the car a male Banded Demoiselle flies past. I look over the bridge into the canal and there are around nine males and at least a female, flying over a large patch of Potamogeton crispus, males chasing and hovering over the plants, which will be the female's choice of ovipositing sites.

Although they are great fun to watch, they are a bit distant, so I decide to walk by the drain and see if I can get closer views. As the drain runs closer to the River Hull I climb the bank to have a look at the river and it is on the river bank when I find a settled female on a willow, and later of a male, which alights close to the female. There are many settled males on the grassy bank, I count 15 individuals in a short stretch of river.
A male Banded Demoiselle on the River Hull, with some male Azure damselflies.
Female Banded Demoiselle.

Male Banded Demoiselle.

I cross the bridge to Stork Hill Wood, a place I haven't been before. From the bridge, more Banded Demoiselles and Azure damselflies ovipositing.
 Stork Hill Wood was planted in 2004, a board informs me, and the map shows a small pond in the middle, so I head for it. The water level is quite low and it looks like it might dry any day, but there are many Azure Damselflies ovipositing and a single male Large Red Damselfly. An Emperor flies past at some point but doesn't settle.

Azure Damselfly.
Ovipositing Azure damselflies.
Mayfly in Stork Hill Wood (Ephemera vulgata)
Azure Damselflies were ovipositing everywhere, these on the Stork Hill Wood pond.

Male Large Red Damselfly.
On my return I walk to the ford on the drain in Swinemoor. There is a nice patch of Potamogeton with ovipositing Azure damselflies, but I also find a teneral and a male Common Blue and a male Red-eyed damselfly patrolling away from the shore, a very distinctive species even from a distance, with a strong flight and a distinctive dark thorax, with a bright blue band near the tip of the abdomen.
Teneral female Common Blue damselfly.
Male Common Blue Damselfly.
Pair of Azure Damselflies in tandem.
Male Red eyed Damselfly, it only settled in the middle of the drain.
As I got to the car I had a last look at the Banded Demoiselles on the drain, I was rewarded by a Water Vole, crossing the drain and disappearing into the sweet reed grass, a great end to a great day!