Home to Tophill – winter gull roosting begins

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With the warmth, and sunshine, of the Algarve left behind on November 12th, the 13th saw the beginning of the Winter 2015/16 Tophill Low NR Gull Roost campaign in East Yorkshire. The opening 12 nights have provided heavy rain, hail and snow, some icy northwest winds and poor conditions for photography –  but a plentiful supply of gulls for those keen enough to brave the elements.

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus have appeared almost nightly during the period, and a new site roosting record of 6 were present on 18th November. Meanwhile, a Little Gull  Hydrocoloeus minutus was heard on the 17th, though failed to drop onto the reservoir.  

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This 1st calendar year Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans, which I sought consultation on, was present until dusk on the 23rd. Scarce large larids recorded in site history rarely reappear the following evening, and true to form, there was no sign on the 24th.

However, this adult was present late-afternoon, though many large larids flew out southwest as the light faded and the bird wasn’t seen after 4.10pm.

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Caspian Gull L. cachinnans is still considered a Tophill rarity despite the time put in since January 2000. The only 2015 record before November concerned one on D res wall on the evening of August 26th.

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At least 3 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis have appeared in the roost – including this first calendar year photographed on the 24th.

To date, only 13 species of gull have been recorded at Tophill Low since its creation in 1959. A good winter can see 12 species recorded… could this campaign see the 14th species of gull added to the site list?

Away from gulls, Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus have been noted on many visits, including this family group which dropped in during a snow shower on the 21st, before disappearing out east shortly after.

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A group of four Pintail Anas acuta were present on the 22nd, while odd Goosander Mergus merganser appear at dusk occasionally.

Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret have been noted around the lagoons area from the 14th, while a Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita was present in the car park on the 23rd – a late migrant or perhaps a locally wintering individual. As ever, for the latest news from Tophill – check out the official blog here.

2015 has proved to be a fantastic year for recording Lepidoptera at Tophill Low. Despite the cold weather, 377 moths were recorded on the 21st including 120 Acrolepia autumnitella. A scarce Yorkshire species as listed here on the Yorkshire Moths website.

Agonopterix subpropinquella became the 418th moth species recorded this year, whilst a Winter Moth Operophtera brumata found on the 24th is another species to add to the ‘moths in the field’ list – over 100 species have been recorded away from traditional light trapping since January 1st.

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