After a lacklustre start to the 2017 moth recording campaign at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, the opening half of March has proved rewarding, with site scarcities featuring prominently. An Early Grey Xylocampa areola on the 13th was only the sixth individual trapped on site since first appearing in 2001, while a Dotted Border Agriopis marginaria on the same date was the first record since 2012.
Tophill’s one and only Caloptilia elongella was recorded in 2013, so the second was long awaited, and came as something of a surprise on the 11th – and was later found to be a female following dissection. The variable Acleris hastiana in the past was only ever recorded during the late summer, but following several individuals trapped in the early part of 2016, the same has happened in 2017, with three taken at light since the start of the month, while Acrolepia autumnitella, a Yorkshire scarcity, has been noted in small numbers. Diurnea fagella, a spring species that can sometimes be found in good number during the day, was first found on the wing on the 15th. Few were discovered during last year’s flight period, but hopefully this year will be more productive for this species which first appeared at Tophill Low in 2011.
March began as February ended as the amazing run of white-winged gulls continued. A 1st or 2nd winter Glaucous Gull Larus hyberboreus was present around South Marsh East on the 1st. The west winds then abated, allowing further observation of D reservoir – and the theme continued with 1st winters on the 3rd, 6th, 7th and two on the 8th – making 4-6 individuals recorded over the first eight days of the month. Sadly, it didn’t continue – but there is still the chance that further individuals may appear in what has been an incredible period in Tophill’s long history.
Despite the daily turnover of gulls, Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus have proved short in supply this month with only four individuals seen on two dates.
Two Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina appeared on the 3rd, joining the long-staying Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis on D reservoir, while a female Scaup Aythya marila was present on O reservoir on the 13th-14th.
As the ever present Kingfisher Alcedo atthis put on a show, a Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus on O reservoir wall on the 16th was the highlight of the period – and only the site’s third since the turn of the century.
Absent in 2016, this Leocarpus fragilis – a Myxomycetes better known as a slime mould – was found in late February at the southern end.
Patch-watching always offers something – for the latest from Tophill Low NR, check out the blog and the twitter feed here.