Monday, 17 September 2012

Dragonflies and butterflies at Tophill Low

The morning started cold and sunny at Tophill Low. Other than workers at the site there was no one about when I arrived at 9:30. The D reservoir hide was very cold and I didn't stay long. Many Coots, Tufted Ducks, a distant Great Crested Grebe and a mixed flock of Common Gulls and Black Headed Gulls were on the water. A large cloud of hirundines - I could make out Sand Martins - flew over. Dragonflies were everywhere, Common Darters, some times in clouds, gave chase to each other, while Migrant Hawkers checked the trees and hedgerows for prey. As for butterflies, Speckled Woods were abundant, and on the buddleias at the car park, three Red Admirals competed for the few remaining flowers. It was too bright, with the hide facing the hide on the lagoons, but at least it was warm inside. A few Black Headed gulls were fishing among a few ducks.
 I walked around the O reservoir and checked all the hides. The best place was Watton, where Cormorants, Mallards and Lapwings sat on the shore. The Southern Marshes were particularly empty, but I think part of them are being drained. It was also getting too windy. I spotted a male Blackcap, which seemed to be subsinging, and heard Bullfinch calls and a Treecreeper on the poplars, which I failed to spot. On the way back to the car, I watched a Southern Hawker hunting. It paused to sunbathe on the ground and I managed some close ups (above), but then it decided to fly away, and settled immediately on my back! A few minutes later, a Red Admiral decided my trousers were the best spot as well, so I was rewarded with two of my top sightings today sitting on me. As I drove slowly back on the approach road, the final thrill of the day: a Weasel on the verge. I stopped the car and it came in and out of the grass a couple of times. That was a good end for a bit disappointing day on the bird front.
Male Common Darter
Speckled Wood
View of Watton Nature Reserve
Wasp collecting wood
Migrant Hawker
Male Common Darter
 A Red Admiral resting on my trousers

Bird list
  1. Black-headed Gull
  2. Blackcap
  3. Blue Tit
  4. Bullfinch
  5. Carrion Crow
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Collared Dove, Singing male 
  8. Common Gull
  9. Coot
  10. Cormorant
  11. Gadwall
  12. Great Tit
  13. Greylag Goose
  14. House Martin
  15. House Sparrow
  16. Jackdaw
  17. Lapwing
  18. Long-tailed Tit
  19. Mallard
  20. Moorhen 
  21. Mute Swan
  22. Robin
  23. Rook
  24. Treecreeper
  25. Tufted Duck
  26. Wigeon
  27. Woodpigeon
  28. Wren

Monday, 10 September 2012

A busy morning at North Cave Wetlands

I had the chance to go birdwatching this morning without children and I thought that a site with hides would be ideal - kids have very little patience for hides, and there is always fights for binoculars. I settled for North Cave Wetlands. It was a bit breezy, but quite mild and, although overcast, there were a few brief sunny spells.
 I had a long stop at East Hide. There was an enormous mixed flock of Greylag and Canada, with one or two hybrids, a few white ferals and a lone Barnacle Goose. Skeins of geese landed on the water and then all flocked close together, honking non-stop. Lapwings were also in abundance, their squeaking noises reminded me of a frog in distress. A Little Grebe pair with two young fed near the raft, and many ducks in eclipse could be seen. A Snipe flew by, the first I see this year, but there were more to come.
I moved then to Turret Hide, my favourite, as it is surrounded by wetlands with islands and grassy beaches and the views are fantastic. There was plenty to watch, including a group of shy Pink Footed Geese, kindly pointed to me by a young birdwatcher. An immature Common Tern fished around, while a couple of Jackdaws sat on the perches, trying to impersonate Cormorants. On the islands, Common Pochards, a Wigeon and many Shovelers in eclipse. A little flock of six Snipe fed on a grassy beach and a Kestrel hunted over a nearby field. There were also many Gadwalls and the males looked like they had their new plumage on.
Finally, I headed for South Hide, which was disapointing at first, after the hustle and bustle of the previous hides. A pair of Great Crested Grebes, some Pochards and Tufted ducks and a few Pied Wagtails. Then a Little Grebe started hunting by the hide, and the angle of the light was such that I could see it while it was hunting underwater.
Not the highest species count of a visit to NCW, but the second best and what a lovely morning.

View from East Hide
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe

Bird List
  1. Barnacle Goose 1 
  2. Black-headed Gull 1 
  3. Blue Tit 
  4. Canada Goose 
  5. Carrion Crow 
  6. Common Tern 1 
  7. Coot 
  8. Feral Pigeon 
  9. Gadwall 
  10. Goldfinch 
  11. Great Crested Grebe 
  12. Greylag Goose 
  13. House Sparrow 
  14. Jackdaw 
  15. Kestrel 1 
  16. Lapwing 
  17. Little Grebe 6 
  18. Magpie 
  19. Mallard 
  20. Moorhen 
  21. Mute Swan 
  22. Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) 
  23. Pink-footed Goose 8 
  24. Pochard 
  25. Robin 
  26. Rook 
  27. Sand Martin 
  28. Shoveler 
  29. Snipe 10
  30. Starling 
  31. Teal 
  32. Tufted Duck 
  33. Wigeon 
  34. Woodpigeon 
  35. Unidentified warbler/chiffchaff calling.
  36. Unidentified immature gull