Saturday, 16 July 2016

July at Tophill Low

On Monday the weather forecast was windy with showers in the morning. I briefly considered going to work, but ultimately decided to brave the elements and head to Tophill Low. The wind was there, but the rain was pretty much absent. I walked towards the south of the reserve, with a stop at the lagoons, where I watched a family of Little Grebes. One of the parents brooded the chicks while the other fed them with small fish. 
One of the parents brings a fish.
Brooding Little Grebe.
Another fish is brought.
The verges around O reservoir were teeming with orchids, mostly common spotted, with a single shrivelled bee orchid.
Orchid display
A moth-like insect landed at the base of one of the South Marsh hides. Upon closer inspection I think it is a caddis fly, but I haven't been able to identify it.
At least three Little Egrets fed on South Marsh East.
Two young Little Ringed Plover. The adults were nearby.
This young Garganey was feeding with some mallards, possibly one of the young that this year have been born at the reserve.
An adult Little Gull was sleeping on one of the islands. It woke up briefly and I could take its portrait.
In the window frames of the hides live the Furrow spider, Nuctenea umbratica.
Another Garganey, this one in South Marsh West
A few insects were active, including this pair of Common Blue Damselflies.
and a Large Skipper.
On the path to Watton Carr hide, I found a dead shrew, and, when I upturned it, a Sexton Beetle was hiding underneath. It was a Nicrophorus investigator. I followed this very useful key to identify it.
Small Skippers where out as well. This frontal shot shows the brown underside of the antennae tip in this species.

A single Common Darter sat on the path around O reservoir.
Underside of a large skipper.
I walked to the north side of the reserve and met these amazing flies on the path. The males are as shiny as a mirror and they dart over damp ground flashing like fireflies. They belong to the genus Argyra.
As I opened my lunch box in North Marsh hide, a Kingfished flew towards the perches. It sat on several of them and even hovered over the water in search of fish. It ended up catching a couple. What a great lunch time it was!

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