Category Archives: Esticadinho Nature

Spring moths continue to surprise at Tophill Low NR

White-pinion Spotted Lomographa bimaculata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

The recent good run of site moth scarcities continued at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire during the middle period of the month.

White-pinion Spotted Lomographa bimaculata was first discovered on the site back in 2006 – the second and third records followed in May 2015, with a single noted in 2016, so singles on May 13th and 16th represent a fantastic year for a species which has proved to be elusive at Tophill over the last decade.

Aspilapteryx tringipennella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

A presumed migrant involved a Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon trapped on the 15th, the 22nd individual since 1996, but trapping on the 16th proved to be the best night of the year so far, with several site scarcities noted including the second site record of Aspilapteryx tringipennella and the sixth record of Aethes smeathmanniana – the first for three years.

Aethes smeathmanniana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

The best moths involved two Geometridae in the group Larentiinae, with both the locally scarce Ochreous Pug Eupithecia indigata and the more common Grey Pug E. subfuscata both being new additions to the site list.

Ochreous Pug Eupithecia indigata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Grey Pug Eupithecia subfuscata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2016

Following the second site record of Prays ruficeps earlier in the month, the third was taken at light on 18th, and for the first time, an ‘out of pot’ photograph was taken.

Prays ruficeps Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Finally, a Gracillaria syringella on the 20th was the eighth site record and first since 2014.

Gracillaria syringella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

The west side of O reservoir is always the first place to look for the first Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas of a new season, and predictably the first of the year was present there on the 13th.

Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Broad-bodied Chaser Libellula depressa is the eighth species of the year noted at Tophill. Confirmed as breeding species on site 12 months ago, the first pre-flight emergents of 2017 were seen on the 20th.

Readers wishing to keep up to date with Tophill related events should check out the Tophill Low NR blog and twitter feed (the latter updated daily) for official news from Tophill Low.

Prays answered as Tophill’s second ruficeps appears

Prays ruficeps Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Despite the cold temperatures and prevailing north and north easterly winds, there were surprise moth records during early May at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire.

On the morning of the 6th, whilst searching grasses, this Prays ruficeps was found, albeit looking the worse for wear. The status of this species is currently unknown in Yorkshire, but this is the second individual at Tophill following the one below in 2013, photographed by Doug Fairweather.

Prays ruficeps Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire 2013

The first new moth of the year, taking the site list to a total of 638 species, was this Phyllonorycter harrisella, photographed by Doug Fairweather, also on the 6th.

Phyllonorycter harrisella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Away from the moth records, the sunshine of the 1st produced the first Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella, Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum and Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense of the 2017 Odonata season, but records thereafter have been limited due to the weather.

Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Birding wise, a few Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea were noted over the Bank Holiday into early May, and summer migrants are in full song, including this Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus on the 2nd.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Ruff Philomachus pugnax moved through in small numbers, with other wader species including Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Dunlin Calidris alpina with the highlights of the period being a summer-plumaged Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola on the 1st and a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola over the 6th-7th.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

Meanwhile, a Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus was still present on the 12th, most probably the same bird that has been lingering in the area on and off for while.

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire May 2017

For the latest news from Yorkshire Water’s Tophill Low NR, check out the reserve blog and twitter feed.

Morel boost during a cold late April

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The final two weeks of April saw Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula on the wing almost daily at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire. Following a site record equalling earliest sighting occurring on April 15th, hopes were high of a great start to the 2017 season, but cold weather during the latter part of month kept numbers, and species diversity, to a minimum.

Winds of an easterly orientation over the final weekend of the month turned up a few site rare and scarce birds. News on these can be found here on the Tophill Low blog and twitter feed, but many other site rarities and scarcities were also recorded.

Thimble Morel Verpa conica Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The most recent site record of Thimble Morel Verpa conica occurred in May 2012, but finally after five years of further searching, the species is still present on site, with a small number noted on the April 29th. The species is rarely recorded, this probably the sixth or seventh record since the site was created in 1959, despite it being widespread across the country.

The cool temperatures also meant poor moth numbers, but there are always surprises. Incurvaria masculella is a scarce and thinly distributed species across Yorkshire. Recorded in 2013 and 2016, Tophill’s third was found on the 29th.

Incurvaria masculella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The Tophill Low moth trapping project commenced in 1992, with sporadic ad-hoc records prior to this – two species rarely noted over this period appeared at light on April 28th.

Mullein Cucullia verbasci Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Two Mullein Cucullia verbasci took the site tally to six individuals following three on one night in 2016 and a single in 2001, while a Puss Moth Cerura vinula was only the sixth since 2004, and the seventh since 1979.

Puss Moth Cerura vinula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Syndemis musculana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Syndemis musculana has been recorded on site annually since 2011, with the 9th and 10th records both occurring on April 29th.

With a lack of suitable habitat on site, Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus will always remain scarce. However, careful searching on the 29th revealed the highest day total in site history.  

Gorse Shieldbug Piezodorus lituratus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Sulphur flavissima on show and Notodontinae prominent in variety

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The spring passage of birds continues through Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, with many migrants arriving and moving through over the last week. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava flavissima are appearing in small number and are particularly evident on the reservoir walls, including this individual on April 22nd.

Streamer Anticlea derivata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

But, there is a lot more to see besides the birds when walking around. Over the last few years, over 100 species of macro and micro moth have been recorded annually in the field. The 2017 list is well underway, with moths seen so far including this Streamer Anticlea derivata on a hide door on April 17th. More expected sightings have appeared in the form of Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner Cameraria ohridella on the wing from 16th and small numbers of Nettle-tap Anthophila fabriciana noted from the 15th.

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Esperia sulphurella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The highlight of the week though was the site’s fifth Esperia sulphurella on the 17th. Widespread across the county, it was first recorded at Tophill in 2010 and this was the first since 2014.

Coxcomb Prominent Ptilodon capucina Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Lesser Swallow Prominent  Pheosia gnoma Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The appearance of species from the family Notodontinae show how quickly the year is progressing, with Coxcomb Prominent Ptilodon capucina, Lesser Swallow Prominent Pheosia gnoma and Swallow Prominent P. tremula all taken at light during the week.

Swallow Prominent Pheosia tremula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Pebble Prominent Notodonta ziczac Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Pebble Prominent Notodonta ziczac and Pale Prominent Pterostoma palpina also appeared despite numbers caught and diversity being down due to cooler overnight temperatures.

Pale Prominent Pterostoma palpina Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The 10th site record of Tinea trinotella was noted on April 20th helping the moth 2017 moth list to healthy 50+ species by the 22nd.

Despite the Odonata season commencing on April 15th, Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula numbers remain low, with cool winds not helping the cause.

For the latest site news, check out the Tophill Low NR blog and twitter feed.

Plain, common, expected – April predictably surprises

Peacock Aglais io Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Warm temperatures during the latter part of the opening week of April encouraged a minimum of eight species of butterfly onto the wing at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire, including Peacock Aglais io and Comma Polygonia c-album, with the first Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines noted from the 8th.

Comma Polygonia c-album Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus are sporadically recorded on site, but have become annual in recent years, so one on April 8th was not entirely unexpected – but seeing a day total of four, including these three together on single a Cramp Ball Daldinia concentrica was something of surprise – April 8th accounted for a good year of records for this species.

Scarce Fungus Weevil Platyrhinus resinosus on Daldinia concentrica Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Gymnocheta viridis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The metallic green tachinid Gymnocheta viridis is often encountered on sunny days in the spring, while the mild temperatures of March and early April predictably encouraged Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula to take to the wing, with the first seen on April 15th – equalling the earliest ever Tophill date for this species set in 2012. The only previous early dates relative to this are April 16th 2011 and April 17th 2007.

Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Orthosia season has proved to be a fantastic period for moth trapping. Over the period 1994-2016, a total of 472 Common Quaker O. cerasi were trapped at Tophill Low NR – the period March 11th-April 14th saw 498 taken at light. With only five individuals recorded between 2001-2016, Early Grey Xylocampa areola is considered a rare site species, but following the sixth ever Tophill record on March 13th, a further seven were trapped by mid-April, including three on the 3rd.

Early Grey Xylocampa areola Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Purple Thorn Selenia tetralunaria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The first of the spring Purple Thorn Selenia tetralunaria was trapped on April 14th. The more plain, but incredibly site notable, Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla on April 1st was only the ninth record since 1996, while Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica first trapped on April 5th followed by others in the month to date, suggest this species may be recorded more often than in previous years.

Muslin Moth Diaphora mendica Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

Kidney-spot ladybird Chilocorus renipustulatus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The April warmth has encouraged numerous Ladybird Coccinellidae to appear in the open, this one of many Kidney-spot Ladybird Chilocorus renipustulatus showing well at the minute, with one count including 23 on one tree early in the month. The scarcer site species Larch Ladybird Aphidecta obliterate was first seen on April 1st – pictures of this and others here on the blog written by Paul Ashton.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

This full adult summer Little Egret Egretta garzetta on April 13th was amongst up to a minimum of 10 individuals seen on site this month. The Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis remained until the 15th at least, along with the Goosander Mergus merganser. A 1st summer Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus was at Watton NR on the 13th, while winter migrants continue to show, with Brambling Fringilla montifringilla present almost daily from the 3rd and a few winter thrushes Turdus in evidence.

Many summer migrants are now present, including Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius displaying on the southern marshes. As ever, for the latest site news, check out the Tophill blog and twitter feed.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire April 2017

The March into the main moth season

Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

March proved fruitful with over 1300 moths recorded over the month at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire. Orthosia season is in full swing, with Hebrew Character O. gothica featuring prominently in the daily records, while the 1000th Clouded Drab O. incerta in site history was trapped on March 17th.

Tawny Pinion Lithophane semibrunnea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

This Tawny Pinion Lithophane semibrunnea was taken overnight on March 16th – the second site record, the only previous individual occurring in 2010. Agonopterix ocellana was a new addition to the site list on December 3rd 2016 – so it was something of surprise to catch three individuals over the March 28th-31st period, while a Parsnip Moth Depressaria radiella trapped overnight on the 31st was the ninth in site history.

The other highlights included Diamond-back Plutella xylostella on March 18th and a Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis on March 30th – the latter the 18th site record of this migrant species.

Agonopterix ocellana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Early Thorn Selenia dentaria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

A total of 16 Early Thorn Selenia dentaria is way higher than the Tophill average of seven individuals per annum over the last 20 years – 2016 was an unusual year with 20 trapped across both flight periods, while a Pine Beauty Panolis flammea on March 30th was only the 17th individual recorded since 1996.

Pine Beauty Panolis flammea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Red Chestnut Cerastis rubricosa has been regular in small number almost annually at Tophill Low with 32 recorded over the 1996-2016 period – on the wing from March 12th, the 2017 total to date is 36!

Red Chestnut Cerastis rubricosa Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

More regular fare has featured Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata, Small Quaker Orthosia cruda and Lead-coloured Drab Orthosia populeti.

Small Quaker Orthosia cruda Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Lead-coloured Drab Orthosia populeti Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

The unusual spring run of Acleris hastiana has continued, the one below one of the many variations of the species photographed by Doug Fairweather, which was taken for genitalia dissection on March 11th. On the same date, a specimen confirmed to be Acleris ferrugana on genitalia detail was taken at light – a species with less than 50 Yorkshire records since first recorded in 1998 (per Yorkshire Moths). Previously, only five A. ferrugana/notana agg. have been recorded on the site since 2012.

Acleris hastiana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

Birding wise, the spring migrants are arriving with Sand Martin Riparia riparia present in small numbers from March 17th, Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius from the 24th, and Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla and Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus arriving on March 30th .

The Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis remained on D reservoir until the month end, while a roosting Red Kite Milvus milvus on the 21st was presumably a migrant individual.

The gulls continued to generate interest with a 2nd summer male Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus displaying on the southern marshes late in the month, while the white-winged bonanza continued with Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus records involving a 2nd winter on March 18th and a 1st winter on the 19th and 20th – the bird on the 20th below pictured distantly on D reservoir wall.

Laridae Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2017

The latest news from Tophill Low NR can be found on the blog and twitter feed.

Tophill Low NR Gull roosting review 2016/2017

With the clocks going forward and the onset of British Summer Time, the curtain came down on the annual gull roosting season at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire on March 25th.

A total of 10 species of gull were noted in the D reservoir roost, O reservoir roost and South Marsh East roost during the November 8th 2016-March 25th 2017 period with more than 100 roosts observed. This was down on the 2015-16 winter in which 11 species were recorded, while the 2014-15 winter campaign saw 12 species recorded.

The November/December 2016 period proved to be particularly uneventful, with just a single Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis, a minimum of six different Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus – including this adult below in December 2016 – with the lone highlight being a 1st calendar year Caspian Gull L. cachinnans on November 20th.

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

However, the January-March 2017 period couldn’t have been more different!

Caspian Gull L. cachinnans the highlight – two 2nd calendar year individuals included this one photographed in poor light on January 7th on D reservoir.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

The Tophill averages for white-winged gulls since 1981 don’t make for fantastic reading – singles of either an Iceland L. glaucoides and/or Glaucous Gull L. hyperboreus tends to be a good year, anything more than that is a remarkable year. 

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

After a review of notes, photographs and videos (which is still ongoing) it would appear a minimum of 16 different Glaucous Gull L. hyperboreus appeared at Tophill Low NR between January 5th and March 25th – an incredible number – the one above on South Marsh East in February, the two below on January 14th – the first time ever two were present in the same roost according to reports dating back to 1981! (Please note I currently don’t have records prior to 1981 available)  Two were also seen in the D reservoir roost on March 8th, though not at the same time.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

Iceland Gull L. glaucoides also featured with a minimum of four seen during February, equalling the site annual record number of individuals – this total noted in both 1995 and 2001.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire February 2017

Unusually, both Glaucous Gull L. hyperboreus and Iceland Gull L. glaucoides appeared together in the gull roosts on three dates this winter – the only time this had occurred previously at Tophill Low NR was on December 24th 2001.

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

An influx of Common Gull L. canus and Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus in mid-January as a result of southeast winds predictably saw an influx of Mediterranean Gull I. melanocephalus from January 19th, with probably 30 different individuals recorded up until February 19th, with a further three in March, taking the winter total to a minimum of 39 individuals – slightly down on the estimated number of the previous two winters, but still a clear demonstration that the number of individuals is far higher than previously recorded. Once again the record total of six roosting was equalled on January 30th and February 2nd – but the total of seven individuals which moved through D reservoir on September 14th 2014 remains the highest day total ever.

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2017

Predictably, Yellow-legged Gull L. michahellis were again scarce during the opening quarter of 2017 – a 3rd calendar year bird present on January 17th and a 2nd calendar year on February 20th and 22nd.

In summing up, while the target of 12 species in the winter roost wasn’t attained, the period January 5th-March 20th is actually the best ever period for scarcer large gulls in site history since construction in 1959 – the total of 20 white-winged gulls for a winter will stand the test of time and will probably be a long-standing site record. With all the white-winged gulls appearing in 2017, there is also the possibility that further individuals will be seen during this calendar year.