Seal of approval at Tophill Low

Dasysyrphus tricinctus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

The species list of Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire increased during the opening days of May. Doug Fairweather’s sharp eyes picked up this Dasysyrphus tricinctus. A widespread, but locally scarce species perhaps due to under-recording, this becomes the 45th species on the Tophill hoverfly list.

Dasysyrphus tricinctus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Other highlights included several Leucozona lucorum amongst the more numerous Eristalis and Helophilus species.

Leucozona lucorum Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Tuesday evening also saw another first for the site. This Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus announced it was passing when it was heard to ‘sneeze’ whilst out of sight on the River Hull. Fortunately, it surfaced in clear view south of south scrub, and allowed for some record shots as it drifted to the bend in the river at Wilfholme and out of sight.

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Some decent spring passage was noted birding wise. Highlights included a drake Common Scoter Melanitta nigra which was present on D reservoir on Tuesday, albeit elusive at times, while a couple of Garganey Anas querquedula have been present on site for several days. At least 24 Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima were present on D reservoir wall on Saturday evening with a further 13 flava Wagtail north during the day. Swift Apus apus were scarce in the opening days of May, but numbers increased on Wednesday with 92 noted during the afternoon.  As ever, check out the Tophill Low blog for the latest sightings.

Esperia sulphurella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

This stunning Esperia sulphurella will perhaps be the only one recorded on site this year. First seen in 2010, this was Tophill’s fourth individual. May Day weekend saw the first Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi of the campaign trapped, while other highlights included Waved Umber Menophra abruptaria and two Pine Beauty Panolis flammea were welcome after being missed in 2013.

Eleven species of butterfly were noted over Saturday-Tuesday period. Highlights being several Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, and a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas which put in a brief appearance late-afternoon on Saturday.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

The relatively slow start to the Odonata season at Tophill showed little signs of changing over the weekend, despite being joined by BDS vice-county recorder Paul Ashton and his father Dave. Not the best of days weather wise, totals were 80 Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula, 6 Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella and 4 Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

Away from the more easily visible groups of insects, plenty of others were evident. Both Larch Ladybird Aphidecta obliterate and Water Ladybird Anisosticta 19-punctata showed over the weekend, several species of Shield bug Pentatomoidea were noted, the stunning Cercopis vulnerata appeared in small numbers and our eyes were opened to the world of Crepidodera. Check out Paul Ashton’s blog for more images from Saturday.

Green Shield Bug Palomena prasina Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2014

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