I spent some time in the south D reservoir hide. There were many Wigeon, Gadwall and a few scattered Shovelers. Further up I could see Coots, an immature Great Black Backed Gull and some groups of Mute Swans. Goldeneyes were very active, flying up and down. I watched a pair interacting near the hide. The female was clearly soliciting mating, staying parallel to the male, low on the water and head low, but the male did his neck stretch, bill pointing up displays a few time before actually mounting her. Afterwards, the male dismounted, although he kept hold of the female's neck feathers and they remained attached like that for a few moments. Quite cool to see the whole sequence from close range.
I move onto the woods, heading to the north of the reserve. The woodland is quite wet and flooded in parts, but the clearing by the feeders is buzzing with Blue Tits, Great tits, Coal Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches. A small tit joins in to feed a few times, a Marsh or Willow tit. I watch intently trying to see the features that allow to discriminate between these very similar species. I can't see any white wing panel, but the bird looks fluffy, with a rich buff colour and a matt black top. Unfortunately, it kept quiet and I didn't take any photos, but Tophill Low warden confirms that Marsh tits haven't been seen feeding in the feeders in this area so it is more likely to be a Willow Tit.
I watch a Treecreeper and a Wren by the feeding area on my way to North Marsh hide. North Marsh is mainly frozen. Other than a small bird diving into the reeds and that doesn't surface again, nothing to report.
But on my way to the Hempholme hide, I flushed a Barn Owl from the pollarded poplar area, I watch it with the binoculars while it flies away from me into the Hempholme lock area, but I don't get to see where it settles. A beautiful, rich colour individual, what a great sight. A Kestrel is also disturbed. At home I make a sketch of a flying Barn Owl. I have seen far to many roadkill Barn Owls and it is nice to see a live one.
On the long walk by the straight side of D res I find a barn owl pellet by a post. I can see the rodent teeth sticking out of it. I will update the post with what I find inside. Then, in the middle of the path, the impressive head of a Great Black Backed Gull, the bill has the adult colour save for a thin black ring near the tip. It looks fresh and has still all feathers, but I carry it to the car, and leave it in the boot while I pop in to see if there is anything of interest in the lagoons. As I get into the car on my way back, I realise that the head stinks. Fortunately I have a plastic bag to put it in.
A brilliant day in Tophill Low, must come back more often.
Pair of Goldeneyes after mating
View of D res
Wren near the feeders in the wet D woods
A squirrel was actually inside this squirrel proofing before it got out and almost completely tore it apart. The feeders were truly buzzing with Tits (three sp. on the photo), and Chaffinches were feeding on the ground.
A frozen pond by D res
Two Mute Swans were actually feeding in the frozen Lagoons though some holes in the ice:
A Grey Heron stopped briefly on the lagoon shore, but promptly left toward the river Hull, probably deterred by the ice.
UPDATE: Contents of the Barn Owl pellet: 3 field voles, 1 common shrew, 1 pygmy shrew. Keyed out using this RSPB resource
- Barn Owl
- Black-headed Gull
- Blue Tit
- Carrion Crow
- Coal Tit
- Common Gull
- Great Black-backed Gull
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Great Tit
- Grey Heron
- Greylag Goose
- Long-tailed Tit
- Mistle Thrush
- Mute Swan
- Tree Sparrow
- Tufted Duck
- Willow Tit