Patch watching wader festival as the Tophill gull season begins

Posing well on the southern marshes in the sunshine was this Kingfisher Alcedo atthis at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire. To the delight of many, they show well during July and August from various hides, but today they were nothing more than minor distraction to the main event.

Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

With water levels perfect, it was no surprise to see a diversity of waders on the lagoons and marshes grounded by the weather conditions. A total of 10 species were noted during the day including a minimum of two Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea which posed alongside two Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and a single juvenile Little Ringed Plover C. dubius.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

The Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos found earlier in the week offered some photo opportunities in the poor morning light with a good number of Ruff Philomachus pugnax, before spending the afternoon in the company of the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus flock and odd Snipe Gallinago gallinago on the southern marshes. Sadly, it remained distant on South Marsh East throughout, despite being regularly flushed by low flying aircraft.

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos and Ruff Philomachus pugnax Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

Greenshank Tringa nebularia Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

Up to 3 Greenshank Tringa nebularia were present, alongside a single Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos and 3-4 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. The marshes and lagoons working – a credit to Yorkshire Water – check out the latest news here.

With winds and rain suitable to keep the waders in place, and for others to be grounded as they passed through, it was no surprise to look on D reservoir and see a diversity of gulls drop on, harassed at times by a juvenile female Peregrine Falco peregrinus. Despite numbers being small, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus appeared briefly late afternoon before heading out south, followed shortly after by an adult which appeared from the north and continued south. Noticeably, a few Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fusus graellsii were grounded during the squally showers, and searching through the larger gulls, predictably a 1st calendar year Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis was picked up, before following the slow, but steady movement south.

Red Underwing Catocala nupta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire August 2016

Less than perfect moth trapping conditions overnight resulted in a small diversity of species trapped, though a Flounced Rustic Luperina testacea was somewhat predictable. Meanwhile, several Red Underwing Catocala nupta were found in suitable places – a true sign summer is ending and autumnal species are on the way.

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