Autumn migration continues and Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire isn’t missing out. The latest addition to the Esticadinho Nature year list being a Ruff Philomachus pugnax on Watton Nature Reserve on the 11th August with two more present on the 18th. Greenshank Tringa nebularia are either lingering or passing through in small numbers with 1-3 noted on various dates. This one below digiscoped at dusk on the 13th at the southern end of the site.
The odd Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and several Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus have made up the best of the rest of the recent wader passage. The two Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis remained on D res up until the 11th at least, while recent visits have yielded fewer Larids than hoped.
Other highlights when visiting included a juvenile Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava spp. prob flavissima early evening on the 10th. A local bird or migrant? There don’t seem to be many about! For the latest news from Tophill Low NR, click here.
Lepidoptera is everywhere – 2013 is already a record year for this group at Tophill Low NR since record collection began at the site.
Brown Argus Aricia agestis was first recorded on site about 10 years ago by Paul Ashton, with numbers peaking at over 40 on one date. Recent summers have seen the species decline at Tophill, so this wonderfully confiding individual provided ample photographic opportunities during cloudy conditions on August 10th.
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas was scarce earlier in the year, but 15 were noted at the southern end of the site on the 18th August.
The 18th saw a huge variety of species on the wing in the summer sunshine – Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris, Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni, Large White Pieris brassicae, Small White P. rapae, Green-veined White P. napi, Common Blue Polyommatus icarus, Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, Painted Lady V. cardui, Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae, Peacock Inachis io, Comma Polygonia c-album, Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria, Wall Lasiommata megera, Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus, Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina and Ringlet Aphantopus hyperantus. Alas, I just couldn’t connect with the several Clouded Yellow Colias croceus seen around the reserve… but it was pleasing to see so many individuals of the commoner species.
The second half of the moth trapping season continues with many new additions to the year list, and the total number of species recorded since January 1st now around the 330 mark. To put it into context, 367 species of moth were recorded between 1992 and 2006 at Tophill Low NR during regular trapping – despite the slow start to the 2013 campaign, it could be possible to see more species in 12 months than it was during that 14 year period!!! With just over four months to go, and many more species still to take to the wing, we have a new target to aim for – albeit a lot is dependant on the weather.
The morning of 11th August saw the final public moth demonstration of the summer at Tophill due to it being National Moth Night. Three people attended the moth show which included many Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing Noctua janthe and numerous Dingy Footman Eilema griseola.
This Aethes smeathmanniana trapped on 16th August became the latest addition to the species list, while work continues on several others.
Mid-August has also seen the number of individuals trapped and the species diversity drop. However, the year list continues to grow – Nutmeg Discestra trifolii is not recorded annually, while Orange Swift Hepialus sylvina, Flame Carpet Xanthorhoe designate and August Thorn Ennomos quercinaria are always a delight to catch.
Typha specialist Bulrush Wainscot Nonagria typhae is now appearing, with a few Twin-spotted Wainscot Archanara geminipuncta also attracted to light.
It is always nice to photograph micros in their natural habitat. Sometimes, with luck, you can get a some reasonable pictures without ‘stage-managing’ – these Acleris variegana Garden Rose Tortrix and Agriphila tristella both posed long enough before taking flight.
Red Underwing Catocala nupta is another beginning its short flight season. Normally a walk of the site can produce up to 10 individuals – if flushed they are perhaps best described as looking like miniature Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria – watching them dance round is a bit of a spectacle!!!
It would appear that Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella are now finished for 2013 having failed to see any over successive weekends. The recent weather hasn’t produced any great Odonata days for a few weeks – either too hot or too windy, or just cloudy – so heavy recording hasn’t occurred. A collection of Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea exuvaie totalled just 10 in the middle of August suggesting the emergence season is all but over. Once again it is interesting to note that the species seems to be outnumbering Brown Hawker A. grandis. Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum seem to be ageing rapidly, and numbers dropping off. It has been another one of those Odonata seasons – sometimes it can be brilliant, but other times hard work… although a Black Darter Sympetrum danae would ensure a full house for species ever recorded at Tophill Low.
Platycheirus rosarum was added to the site Hoverfly list on 17th August. Sharp eyes and teamwork between Doug Fairweather and myself ensuring this individual was captured, identified and photographed. A good diversity are on the wing at the moment, including Episyrphus balteatus, Syritta pipiens, Sphaerophoria scripta, Volucella pellucens and Scaeva pyrastri.
Small numbers of Eristalis are also encounted including E. pertinax, while E. horticola was new for the site list on the 11th Aug.
Despite seeing them often, Miridae doesn’t often feature on Esticadinho Nature… but this Heterotoma planicornis found by Doug Fairweather was new to the site list on 10th August, while the same day he also photographed Cixius nervosus.