Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Tophill Low in December

I took a trip to Tophill Low today. There was the promise of a lovely diving trio: a Long-tailed Duck, Smew and Black-necked grebe were at the reserve. As soon as I left Hull I realised it was really foggy, and the fog got thicker as I approached the river and Tophill Low, not the best day for photography.
The old south hide is now gone and the new hide/visitor centre looks almost complete, with the glass panels being fitted today.
Many coots at D res, with Goldeneyes, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants, even a few Teal flotillas. At some point groups of common gulls, herring gulls and a couple of Great-black Backed gulls started to bathe, joined by a cormorant and a great-crested grebe. Bathing is quite contagious!
After several scans, squinting hard due to the poor visibility, I moved on to the woods. The feeders were being used by Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Great, Blue and Coal tit. Eventually, a Marsh Tit made an appearance.
Hovering Chaffinch.
Coal tit, goldfinch and Chaffinch.
Marsh tit and Goldfinch.
The usual tranquility of North Marsh was broken by the burst of a Cetti's warbler song. The sound came from the reeds at the back of the hide, so there I moved. Eventually, I spotted it and the edge of the reeds, always under cover and close to the ground. I even managed a few poor shots (top shot and below), the firsts I take of this elusive species.

 The view from the north hide, once the fog started to lift. I reached the middle hide and scanned again at the south side, where the long-tailed duck had been seen yesterday. There it was, diving repeatedly. A nice thing about them is that they bubble all the time they are under water, so it's easy to predict where they will emerge. Still, the views were very distant and still misty, so these record shots is the best I managed.

 Noth much at N lagoon and N marsh so I went to O res to check for the Black-necked grebe. There were indeed many Great Crested Grebes about...
and courting Goldeneyes...
 ...but a birdwatcher spotted the Black-necked grebe, right at the other side of the reservoir, so again, just record shots.
 With so much reservoir scanning I run out of time and didn't get to Watton for the Smew, but I was most pleased with the visit.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Hazy winter sun at South Landing

This is the last Monday in the year that was going out, after some deliberation I opted for a trip to my favourite place in East Yorkshire. I was held out by some incident in Beverley, so I had to take a long detour, and I had to drive back all around Beverley but shortly after 10 am I was parking by the Living Seas centre. I was surprised that the feeders had been removed and the centre shut for the winter, including the toilets. There were few small birds around the centre. The tide was going out at the beach. A loose flock of Oystercatchers and a Curlew were feeding on the sandy strip, while some Turnstones fed at the tideline, with a few squabbling Rock Pipits.
 I walked towards Danes Dyke. A Carrion Crow had found a flatfish and flew with it to a safe place to feed on it. It hit it with the bill to break the skin and get to the flesh. A Great Black-backed gull watched from a distance, but respected the crow's ownership.
 I saw a Fulmar circling, they are back at the cliffs! I even managed a flight shot. There were 6 individuals on this stretch of coast. Two sitting in pairs in possible nest sites and much cackling ensued every time a circling individual got near. A selection of Fulmar photos follows. They are very photogenic, the low cliffs allow great views and the light was lovely today.

A crab pincer to ID.
Posing Turnstone. These were very approachable and kept feeding a couple of meters from me.
These Fulmars were on the other side of the cliff towards the Headland. Another six were present, in two sites.

Cliff fall.

Low tide looking towards the headland.
There was not a high number of bird species today, 26 species on two km2, the winter regulars.
This was the only invertebrate, a Winter Moth Operophtera brumata, on a wall by a light in the Living Seas Centre.