Migration recording at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire during the latter part of May revealed very little was actually moving during periods in the field. A trickle of Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis the main species on the move, with the highlight being the appearance of three Little Gulls Hydrocoloeus minutus – two 1st summers and a 2nd summer type bird – which could be seen along the river or on Watton Nature Reserve often in the company of the Common Terns Sterna hirundo.
With the birding once again quiet, its the moth records that provided the highlight. The final weekend of the month saw the first Oak Hook-tip Watsonalla binaria trapped on site since 2001. A scarce Tophill species, this becomes only the fifth record since 1992. Equally as rare in the traps was this Lime Hawk-moth Mimas tiliae – the sixth Tophill individual in 23 years of moth trapping.
Green Silver-lines Pseudoips prasinana continue to be attracted to light in small number, while the delightful Nemophora degeerella are noticeable around Tophill at the moment.
June 1st saw me tasked with a trip up to the north end of the site to help with the Breeding Bird Survey with my zone being the Hempholme Meadow area and environs.
A few birds were recorded, but these were overshadowed by the incredible spectacle of Odonata. Having recorded the dragonflies over the past 14 summers at Tophill, it will go down as one of the best early summer days for numbers in site history. Unable to do a full site count due to time, almost 200 Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata were present around the meadow, more than doubling the previous site highest count, whilst five Broad-bodied Chaser L. depressa were noted – almost more individuals than the previous two summers!!!
Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum appeared for the first time on May 31st, and three more were flushed out of the meadow on June 1st, while 16 Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense were recorded – with a further nine seen at other water-bodies creating a new site record of 25 individuals on a single day.
Interestingly, once again nearly every Hairy Dragonfly was a male – only one female was recorded – and many were trying to be elusive as the above picture illustrates – but are we now actually watching the species colonise the site after many years of waiting?