Gulls galore and scarce site moths

Pintail Anas acuta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2015

A good diversity of wintering wildfowl have been on show throughout the opening month of the year at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, with the long-staying female Scaup Aythya marila and drake Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina being almost resident on the reservoirs, while several Pintail Anas acuta included this stunning drake at the back end of the month.

The gull roost continues to provide constant interest with the first large white-wingers appearing at the months end. A 1st winter Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus was in the roost on January 24th, a 1st winter Iceland Gull L. glaucoides, showing characteristics of kumlieni roosted on the 30th and an adult appeared on the 31st. Historically, white-winged gulls don’t reappear on consecutive nights at Tophill Low NR – these birds continued that trend.

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2015

Up to three Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus were present over the weekend of the 24th and 25th, including the first second-winter bird of the 2014/15 winter period. A 1st winter Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus roosted on the 30th, while the first Lesser Black-backed Gull L. fuscus graellsii appeared on the 25th, with a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis present on the same date.

Barn Owl Tyto alba Tophil Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2015

A pleasant distraction from the gulls, this Barn Owl Tyto alba was one of two which spent a freezing afternoon dodging snow showers on the 31st before the poor conditions saw them seek refuge in the owl boxes.

Even though the first snow of the winter has appeared in recent weeks, moth recording carries on regardless. The Acrolepia autumnitella below was one of 10 recorded in the final week of the month – a scarce Yorkshire species which was first recorded in the vice-county as recently as 2009, whilst other notable sightings included Tophill’s third Twenty-plume Moth Alucita hexadactyla and fourth Parsnip Moth Depressaria radiella since recording began on site in 1992.

Acrolepia autumnitella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2015

Yellow Brain Tremella mesenterica Tophill Low NR, January 2015

Fungi records in the second half of January featured small clumps of Yellow Brain Tremella mesenterica  among the masses of last autumn’s Candle Snuff Xylaria hypoxylon.

For a full round-up of news from Tophill Low NR over the latter part of the month, click here.

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