Gull species 11 of 12 – or 10 out of 12 in two days

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2016

The second week of February featured an interesting selection of gulls at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire.

Despite the first winter Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides predictably not returning for a third successive night, the recent run of Mediterranean Gulls Ichthyaetus melanocephalus continued with at least three different first-winter birds noted and this second-winter bird above which appeared on the 12th and 13th.

Monday, 8th February 2015 will go down as one of the best gull days in Tophill site history. Nothing special actually appeared, but nine species in an evening gull roost is something that will have rarely, if at all ever, been recorded in the site’s long history. Away from the regular five species, a single Mediterranean Gull I. melanocephalus, a Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus, a second calendar year Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis and a first-winter Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla dropped onto D reservoir and roosted. The latter species is something of a winter scarcity, and something which wasn’t predicted in a west southwest wind.

Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2016

Only 13 species of Larid have ever been recorded at Tophill since it was created in 1959. Excluding rarities, it is possible to get 12 in a year or winter period. Kittiwake became the 10th species in two days, the 11th of 2016 and the winter 2015/16 period.

Away from the gull roost, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose Anser albrifrons remained on and off, while up to nine Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus appeared late in the week. The only other birds of note involved the drake Scaup Aythya marila which remains as does the drake Pintail Anus acuta.

Acleris hastiana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, January 2016

Late January news involved this Acleris taken at light on the 29th. Genitalia dissection proved it to be Acleris hastiana – the first winter record for Tophill Low NR and only the sixth record overall since 2012. Normally, the species is trapped on site in August during a very small window, so it was something of a surprise for it to appear in January. A scarce Yorkshire moth, there are only 200 records since 1883 in the county (per Yorkshire moths).

The cool temperatures of February has proved to be a challenging time, but the site’s sixth Parsnip Moth Depressaria radiella was noteworthy on the 13th, with 41 Acrolepia autumnitella also noted on the same date.

As ever, for the latest official Tophill news, click here.

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