Friday, 10 October 2014

Hornets, kingfisher and a stinky stinkhorn at Tophill Low

I went to Tophil Low with Gui and Jess. Sunny sky and mild weather, just a tiny bit of a breeze. We walked the north side of the reserve. From the car park hide overlooking D-res Jess spotted a small group of Red-Crested pochard, a bird I hadn't seen this year. We could see some shovelers in the distance, and the usual assortment of coot, mute swan, pochard and tufted duck. A Buzzard soared over the trees in the distance and Jackdaws play fighted with a Kestrel.
 We kept an eye on the trees for a Tawny Owl on the way to D-woods, but there was no luck. Goldcrests were everywhere, and we also saw a Treecreeper. In a clearing in the wood near the pond, Hornets crossed the path at full speed. There might be a nest nearby, as there was a lot of hornet traffic there. And on the floor Gui spotted a fresh Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus), which had just started to attract flies. 
Mature Stinkhorn. The tip is covered by a dark, sticky substance that contains the spores and emits a rotting flesh smell, which attracts flies. The immature fulgal bodies are called 'eggs' and you can see one intact one on the left.
We admired and photographed the fungus and carried on towards North Marsh. The Kingfisher gave us great views: it first landed behind some bullrush leaves, but after catching a fish it settled on a clea branch in front of the hide. After hitting the fish a few times against the branch it proceeded to drop it and wasn't too bothered about retrieving it.
 We waited a bit longer hoping to see an otter, but instead were entertained by two male Migrant Hawkers, Darters, Comma, Red Admiral and a white butterfly. At some point a male Kestrel landed on a tree, and a Wren expressed its alarm at the event. There were quite a number of active invertebrates about in the reserve.
 After North Marsh, and alerted by two kind birdwatchers, we kept an eye for water voles in the pond on the way to Helmpholme Meadows. We spotted them going about their busy lives from the hide and and inside the hide we discovered tens of overwintering lacewings on the roof.
 Helmpholme was quiet. Other than three Commas on the wing and a calling Chiffchaff or Willow warbler that called and didn't sing.
Red Crested Pochard, and Coots
Male Pintail still in eclipse plumage.
Shoveler and Teal?
Common Darter
Migrant Hawker
Dronefly, Eristalis tenax
Water vole, one of several seen at the pond
Water vole
Red Admiral
Amber snail
Bug still to ID
A cluster of overwintering Lacewings, Chrysoperla carnea inside one of the hides.
The same stinkhorn two hours later. Many bluebottles, green bottles and other flies clustered over it. The black spore containing substance pretty much gone.

Caddis fly.
Bird List
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Buzzard
  4. Carrion Crow
  5. Chaffinch
  6. Coal Tit
  7. Common Gull
  8. Coot
  9. Cormorant
  10. Gadwall
  11. Goldcrest
  12. Great Black-backed Gull
  13. Great Crested Grebe
  14. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  15. Great Tit
  16. Jackdaw
  17. Kestrel
  18. Kingfisher
  19. Lapwing
  20. Long-tailed Tit
  21. Marsh Tit
  22. Moorhen
  23. Mute Swan
  24. Pheasant
  25. Pintail
  26. Pochard
  27. Red-crested Pochard
  28. Robin
  29. Shoveler
  30. Swallow
  31. Treecreeper
  32. Tufted Duck
  33. Wigeon
  34. Woodpigeon
  35. Wren 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Spurn and Beacon Lagoons

We visited Spurn Head and Kilnsea's Beacon ponds with the Hull Natural History Society today, a sunny, mild day with a very light breeze. After a short stop by the Crown and Anchor car par and walked around the church, enlivened by a Chiffchaff singing and Tree Sparrows, we joined the main party by the Blue Bell and walked north by Beacon Lane. In that area, thanks to the expert cricketers Andy and Rob, we found the highlight of the trip, two crickets new for me. First was Roesel's bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii), with several calling males and a female; I was mostly unable to hear the male's calls, and as you can imagine, I didn't find any myself. The only one I could hear - sometimes - was one which allowed close approximation (watch a short clip of the male singing here). The second cricket species was the Short-winged Conehead (Conocephalus dorsalis)(photo above, note the extremely long antennae!), of which we saw two females.  
A female Roesel's Bush Cricket on a fence
Male Roesel's Bush Cricket singing
A group of Meadow Pipits were having a bath on a pond and a pair of Stonechats hunted from the hedge. On the Beacon Lagoons, a flock of Brent Geese, Mallards, Wigeon and Teal, and a lone Great Crested Grebe. A Curlew fed by the beach.
After checking for woodlice and other critters under a log, Rob spotted a Common Lizard, which scurried into the grass before I could take a photo.
We quickly cut across to the estuary side as we had got separated from the leading group. In the mudflats, a large flock of Golden Plover, also Knot, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew and a Little Egret. After a quick lunch and we carried on south. Under a large log we found two Woodlouse spiders and a large centipede. No luck for Sara with the local woodlouse she was trying to find though.
 We failed to see any rare bird migrants, although the four Jays flying over the Blue Bell was very nice. There was a passage of Skylarks and Linnets, a pair of Stonechats near Beacon Ponds and two Wheatears.
 Despite the mild weather, not many butterflies on the wing, a Wall Brown was seen and two tattered Painted Ladies.
We had a spot of sea watching and saw Little Gulls, Terns and a young Gannet.
One of four Jays passing over
Eristalis pertinax
Willow Warbler
some of the Brent Geese in Beacon Lagoon
Watching waders on the mudflats.
Flock of knot and Golden plover flushed by a bait digger
A busy group of seawatchers by the Blue Bell car park.
The sign to Beacon Lagoons
Short Winged Conehead female
A view of Beacon Lagoon
Eristalinus aeneus on Sea Aster (identified by Rob Jaques).
Eristalinus aeneus
Tibellus sp. spider
Female Lesser Marsh Grasshopper (Chorthippus albomarginatus).
Dysdera crocata, the Woodlouse spider
Painted Lady, the less faded individual we saw, stretching up to catch the sun
Bird List
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Brent Goose
  5. Brent Goose
  6. Carrion Crow
  7. Chiffchaff
  8. Collared Dove
  9. Common Gull
  10. Cormorant
  11. Curlew
  12. Dunlin
  13. Dunnock
  14. Gannet
  15. Golden Plover
  16. Goldfinch
  17. Great Crested Grebe
  18. Great Tit
  19. Greenfinch
  20. Grey Heron
  21. Herring Gull
  22. House Sparrow
  23. Jackdaw
  24. Jay
  25. Knot
  26. Linnet
  27. Little Egret
  28. Little Gull
  29. Magpie
  30. Mallard
  31. Meadow Pipit
  32. Mute Swan
  33. Oystercatcher
  34. Pied Wagtail
  35. Redshank
  36. Reed Bunting
  37. Ringed Plover
  38. Robin
  39. Shelduck
  40. Skylark
  41. Starling
  42. Stonechat
  43. Swallow
  44. Teal
  45. Tree Sparrow
  46. Wheatear
  47. Wigeon
  48. Willow Warbler
  49. Woodpigeon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Foggy North Cliffe Wood

 We arrived at North Cliffe Wood in very dense fog. The silhouettes of gulls and partridges could be just made up in the fields. The light in the woods was quite poor and I had to use the flash more than I would have liked. Despite the almost total lack of sun during our visit, we managed to find a good diversity of invertebrates. The only butterfly on the wing was Speckled Wood, and we had a glimpse of some darters, possibly common, although they didn't settle long enough for photos. We also saw a hornet flying by the edge of the wood.
 Birdwise the highlights were a Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker showing very well, a Jay and several Skylarks passing over.
 As we were about to leave, we spotted a frog hopping across the road making it safely to the other side.
The remains of egg sacs of the tiny spider Paidiscura pallens.
A pair of Drassodes sp. Immature males and female are often found in adjacent cells and mate after reaching adulthood.
Part of a flock of Great Black-Backed gulls resting on the same field as above after the fog lifted.
A harvestman, Paroligolophus agrestis
Black Snail Beetle, Silpha atrata.
Common Groundhopper, Tetrix undulata.
Birch Shieldbug, Elasmostethus intersinctus.
Common Earthball, Scleroderma citrinum (thank you to Rob Jaques for ID)
Male harvestman, Leiobunum rotundum
Himacerus mirmicoides Ant Damsel Bug
Geometridae caterpillar for ID
Spider for ID
Pill Millipede, Glomeris marginata
Pill Millipede, Glomeris marginata

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackbird
  3. Carrion Crow
  4. Chaffinch
  5. Common Gull
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Great Black-backed Gull
  8. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  9. Great Tit
  10. Herring Gull
  11. Jackdaw
  12. Jay
  13. Long-tailed Tit
  14. Pheasant
  15. Red-legged Partridge
  16. Robin
  17. Rook
  18. Skylark
  19. Sparrowhawk
  20. Treecreeper
  21. Woodpigeon
  22. Wren