Tuesday, 22 September 2015

September at Tophill Low

Another wet Monday, so I headed to Tophill low to play a bit of hide and seek. It didn't actually start raining until 10, so, I could watch a Migrant Hawker hunting by the South Hide by D-reservoir, but that was all regarding invertebrates. On arrival there were plenty of coots in D-res. Actually, other than the scattered Mute Swans (including a dead one by the wall) it was hard to make up any other species amongst them. Eventually I found also Tufted Ducks, Shovelers, Pochards and a lone Red-crested pochard with a very disheveled crest.
 Goldcrests called from D-woods. The drizzly rain had started and I didn't stop much to watch the feeding birds in the wood's feeders. A Marsh tit and a Coal tit, with a bunch of Chaffinches, some of them hovering to fetch seeds straight from the feeder.
 Everything was very quiet at North Marsh. A couple of Moorhens fed contentedly on the water. The silence was only broken by a group of Long-tailed tits passing by and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying over. The sky brightened and the rain stopped, so I left the hide towards Helmpholme meadows. I heard the screech of a Jay in the edge of the wood, and managed to watch it as it got into a large willow. I noticed there are a few oaks in D woods, now loaded with acorns. I had never seen Jays here. On my way back the screeching again, and it sounded like two individuals.
 Things were even quieter at Helmpholme, with just a family of Moorhens about.
 On the way back I went into one of the hides overlooking the D-res. There were a group of dark gulls and I am hopeless at sizing birds at a distance. Only after two flew off and I could see the pink legs I realised there was quite a few Great Black-backed gulls. I quite like the photo at the top of the post, which came out with a strange quality, almost like a watercolour, showing four gull species loafing together in a large group, occasionally shaking off the rain from their feathers: Great Black-backed, Herring, Common and Black-backed, all with their winter attire almost complete.
The rain never amounted to more than a drizzle, so I decided to head to the southern side of the reserve. Other than a male Marsh Harrier and a Little Egret in South Marsh, nothing else much to report.
Red-crested Pochard
Male Migrant Hawker
The osprey nest decoy, ready with remote camera, on a quiet spot by D-res.
Belted Galloway cattle grazing the pond
A drake Shoveler still in eclipse
And a female Shoveler
Mute Swans on South Marsh

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