Inverts awaken

Small Quaker Orthosia cruda Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2016

The closing period of March and early days of April have seen moth recording continue at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, albeit with slow results as only a handful of moths have been taken at the light – Small Quaker Orthosia cruda one of the additions to the year list. However, the discovery of three Parsnip Moth Depressaria radiella on one day during surveying was something of a surprise. Three individuals had been recorded during the early part of the year, and only four had been seen on site since records began in 1992.

Despite another period searching for Ocnerostoma friesei in areas the species has been seen in, it has so far eluded all efforts. Three individuals were found during the spring of 2012, but this scarce Yorkshire species, which has only been being recorded in two vice-county locations since the turn of the millennium (per Yorkshire Moths) continues to be elusive.

Warm sunshine in late March produced the first Bombylius major of the year, with numbers increasing slightly in early April.

Bombylius major Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

Episyrphus balteatus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

The first hoverflies of the spring were noted from March 31st when Eristalis pertinax was found on the wing. E. tenax was first seen on April 2nd while Episyrphus balteatus was seen on April 3rd.

A new addition to the Tophill list was Cheilosia albipila which was found on March 31st, and photographed by Doug Fairweather. However, despite returning to the area in the following days, no further sightings were made.

Cheilosia albipila Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2016

Cheilosia albipila Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2016

The second Common Scoter Melanitta nigra of the spring was present on O reservoir on March 31st while the Ruff Philomachus pugnax have declined in number with only one still present on April 6th.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

Eventually, the first House Martin Delichon urbicum appeared over D reservoir on April 2nd, with the same day seeing a Red Kite Milvus milvus pass south. Four Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca appeared on April 3rd before flying out northeast late-afternoon, and the two Garganey Anas querquedula remain from late March, though are quite mobile.

Garganey Anas querquedula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

A minimum of three Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius have been present in recent days, including a pair nest scraping. Following last year’s failed attempt, it is also pleasing to see a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus graellsii back on the southern marshes. Hopefully, both species can have a successful breeding season on site.

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii have started to increase since April 2nd as passage birds start to move through, and the first White Wagtail M. a. alba was present on South Marsh East on April 6th.

Comma Polygonia c-album Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2016

Sunny periods are encouraging a few butterflies onto the wing, including this Comma Polygonia c-album on April 3rd which was seen with Steve Routledge – check out his blog post here.


A surprise came on April 4th when the Biking Birdman Gary Prescott made his debut appearance at Tophill Low as he continues his quest to see over 304 species in the UK this year by bicycle. A brilliant afternoon started with a cuppa and became great conversation, and a tour of the site. Fortunately, his visit to Tophill enabled him to add a few more species to the year list. Hopefully, Gary will achieve his goal and break the record of species recorded in a year by bike… check out his blog here.

As ever, for the official Tophill news, check out the official website here, and there is also the new Tophill Low Nature Reserve Facebook group to help you keep up to date.


Comments are closed.