Category Archives: Esticadinho Nature

2018 begins with a long-staying Glaucous Gull and a new Caspian pattern emerging

Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2018

2018 gull-roosting at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire sprang into life in early January with two Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus early in the month, including this adult on the 2nd, with a first-winter bird appearing on a couple of evenings around the same period.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2018

Roost number 59 of the winter saw this juvenile/first-winter Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus appear on the 7th. Despite not appearing nightly (although it may enter the roost after dark), the same bird kept on reappearing and was present until dark on the 15th. The question being, just how long will it remain? This bird goes against the grain of most of the scarcer gulls in Tophill site history dating back to 1959, with most occurring on just single evenings.

The highlight of the gull roosting spectacle appeared on the 9th in the form of a second-winter Caspian Gull L. cachinnans with either the same or another bird present on the 12th.

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2018

There are now ‘frequent‘ records of this species appearing in the Tophill Low NR roost on D reservoir in the early part of the year, listed as follows:

5th January 1016

7th January 2017

9th January 2018

12th January 2018

19th January 2017

Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire January 2016

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

Coincidence or trend? Time will tell if this pattern of records continues. Could it be that January and November are peak times for seeing Caspian Gull L. cachinnans at Tophill?

As ever, for the latest news from Tophill Low NR, check out the reserve’s blog and Twitter feed.

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Tophill Low 2017 Moth Year list declares on a provisional 522

Winter Moth Operophtera brumata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire December 2017

December has proved, as expected, to have been a quiet month mothwise at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire – Winter Moth Operophtera brumata the commonest of the few species encountered this month.

However, this quieter period of the year has allowed many dissections to take place, adding further new species to site list.

Coleophora tamesis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire 2017

Two of the recent species identified by way of dissection include Coleophora tamesis and Coleophora lusciniaepennella from June 20th, genitalia plates photographed under the microscope by Doug Fairweather.

Coleophora lusciniaepennella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire 2017

Despite there being two further nights of trapping ahead, it is likely the Tophill Low NR moth year list will be provisionally declared at 522 species, with possibly a further two to be added if specimens are bred out during the spring, and perhaps more if dissections were to reveal further species.

Moth trapping proper began on site in 1992, and the provisional declaration of 522 represents a new record total for a calendar year on the reserve, surpassing the previous high of 431 achieved in 2014 – a record which was broken on August 8th.

In all, a total of 454 lights have been set, with two further trapping nights to go, and in excess of 34,500 individual moths have been recorded, a number that would run into the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, had we counted each individual leaf-mining moth, or some that are present in such huge numbers in the field that it is impossible to offer an accurate total.

A minimum of 38 new species have been added to the reserve list during 2017, bringing the number recorded since recording proper began to 679. The recording of several specimens of the Nationally Scarce Gynnidomorpha alismana also proved to be a new species for VC61.

Gynnidomorpha alismana Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire June 2017

Big thanks are due to Doug Fairweather and Karen Williams for their efforts during what has been the busiest moth recording year since the study of natural history began on the reserve in 1959.

We’d also like to thank Charlie Fletcher for his advice and encouragement over the last 12 months and Harry Beaumont for confirming the identification of Gynnidomorpha alismana.

Finally, a huge thanks is due to Richard Hampshire and Geoff Lomas of Yorkshire Water for their unwavering support and help during 2017 and allowing us permission to full access of Tophill Low Nature Reserve’s variety of habitats without restriction. Being allowed to learn, record, play and enjoy brings results.

Into 2018, there will be new species and further learning, as we aim to improve on 2017.

If only everything was as straightforward to identify as a migrant Vestal Rhodometra sacraria!

Vestal Rhodometra sacraria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Winter arrivals and ‘predictable’ Cachinnans

Goldeneye Bucephala clangula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire November 2017

As always during November, the wintering wildfowl start to arrive and move through in number at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire.

Goldeneye Bucephala clangula are now more evident on the reservoirs, and small groups of Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus moved through during the period, including this group of six (but only five in the photo) which had a brief stop on both reservoirs on the 18th before continuing their incredible migration south. An impressive 20 female/1st winter type Common Scoter Melanitta nigra were present on the 13th – the second highest flock in site history.

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire November 2017

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

Predictably, the month was quieter for moths, especially since mid-month. The second Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi of the autumn was trapped on the 3rd, while Winter Moth Operophtera brumata and Mottled Umber Erannis defoliaria were new additions to the year list which currently stands at a minimum of 517 species pending acceptances, with possibly more to add as the record-breaking Lepidoptera year continues.

The nightly roost of gulls has predictably turned up surprises during the month. After a record-breaking Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus number during October, only 11 were seen during November with the highest evening totals numbering three on two occasions.

A juvenile Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides dropped in briefly on the 19th. Most records of the species tend to be in the second part of the winter (January-March) and this individual was only the sixth individual noted in the first part of the winter since first recorded on site in 1981.

‘White-wingers’ are scarce during the early winter season at Tophill Low, indeed this was only 12th record of a ‘white-winger’ before January in the reports dating back to 1981, with 10 of them occurring since the turn of the millennium. It was also the third ‘white-winger’ recorded in the month of the November – the only previous records involved a Glaucous Gull L. hyperboreus on 25th November 2001 and an Iceland Gull L. glaucoides on November 29th 2003 – thus this becomes the earliest ever winter Iceland Gull L. glaucoides in site history, and probably the earliest winter white-winged gull record since the reservoir was constructed in 1959.

A first-winter Caspian Gull L. cachinnans was present in the roost on the 26th, which despite best efforts could not be photographed. Unsurprisingly, the bird failed to reappear the following day, but another, incredibly showy individual was present.

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

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

The evening of the 28th saw presumably Sunday’s bird present once again in the roost, and then on the 29th, for the first time in Tophill history, two were present, and further checking of the photographs, video and notes is required to determine exactly how many birds were involved, especially as few of the scarcer gulls that appear on the reservoir visit on more than one evening.

The appearance of these individuals could almost be predicted as they fit into the pattern of previous records of the species at Tophill during the month of November.

2011 – 6th and 26th

2014 – 14th

2015 – 23rd, 24th and 26th

2016 – 20th

2017 – 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th

There is a bias from the 20th onwards, with incredibly three individuals occurring on the same date.

On commoner side of the coin – Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus are present in varying numbers nightly.

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire November 2017

For the latest news from Tophill Low, check out the blog and twitter feed here.

Migrant moths continue, Mediterranean Gulls and a rare fungi

Vestal Rhodometra sacraria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Migrant moths continued to be attracted to light at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire during the latter part of October. Following two Vestal Rhodometra sacraria on the 17th, a third was trapped on the 20th and a fourth was captured on the 24th. A total of six Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis were trapped between the 23rd and 30th taking the total for the year to seven individuals – a record year for the species at the reserve.

Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

A Scarce Bordered Straw Helicoverpa armigera was trapped on the 28th – the first record since 2006 and only the fourth ever in Tophill history.

The number of migrant moths during October totalled:-

6 Rusty Dot Pearl U. ferrugalis
4 Vestal R. sacraria
1 Gem Nycterosea obstipata
1 Scarce Bordered Straw H. armigera
2 Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis
4 Dark Sword-grass Agrotis ipsilon

Plus, records of  Turnip Moth Agrotis segetum and several Flame Shoulder Ochropleura plecta and Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba were suggestive of being immigrants given the dates.

Red Sword-grass Xylena vetusta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Red Sword-grass Xylena vetusta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Away from the migrants, there are always commoner species which produce surprise records which included in this period the reserve’s first autumn record of Common Quaker Orthosia cerasi which was trapped on the 24th. This was followed on the 27th when a Red Sword-grass Xylena vetusta appeared – the second reserve record and the first for 4599 days – the previous individual trapped on March 26th 2005!!!

The 2017 flight period of Yellow-lined Quaker Agrochola macilenta has seen the species noted in record numbers on site. First appearing on the wing this year on September 27th, a total of 176 have been recorded to date. By comparison, since first documented on site, the 1996-2006 records totalled 66 individuals – but this total itself was surpassed between October 24th-28th when 70 individuals were trapped.

Yellow-line Quaker Agrochola macilenta Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

December Moth Poecilocampa populi Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

A pointer to the fact that the moth year has almost gone full circle appeared in the form of the first December Moth Poecilocampa populi on the 27th – a species which will be on the wing for the next month or so depending on temperature.

Under the microscope, and by way of genitalia dissection, Coleophora flavipennella was recorded on June 28th and C. tamesis was taken on July 14th – these two species take the reserve list to 673 species, while the number of species recorded during 2017 now stands at 512.

During the autumn of 2016, Hypoxylon subticinense was discovered on site by Doug Fairweather – this record prompting the Associated British Fungus Group to document the species’ occurrence in the 2016 winter edition of the Forayer magazine. Prior to the Tophill record, the species had not been recorded further north than Suffolk, and searching during the latter part of this month has revealed a more stunning example than that of 12 months ago.

Hypoxylon subticinense Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017
D reservoir Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

October has seen an increase in gull numbers on D reservoir, and this will continue to dominate proceedings over the forthcoming months as the roost increases in number.

October has been spectacular for Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus with study of the gulls present on D reservoir during afternoons, and more latterly since change of the clocks to Greenwich Mean Time in the roost, revealing that at least 27 individuals appeared during the month. A few birds were ringed, but the distances involved mean they are impossible to read. The total for October is unprecedented for this month in site history, and the origins of these birds cannot really be determined. However, the predominate winds from the southwest are perhaps indicative of birds already in the country being displaced.

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

For the latest from Tophill Low NR, check out the twitter feed via the website or the Facebook Page.

Migrants from both the north and south

Vestal Rhodometra sacraria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

The strong southwest winds courtesy of Storm Ophelia meant bad weather for some, but at Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire, it meant delightful warm winds which blew in from southern Europe the reserve’s first ever Vestal Rhodometra sacraria records with two attracted to the lights on October 17th. These followed a small number trapped elsewhere across Yorkshire the previous evening from what can be gleaned from social media, with the species still being recorded in recent days across the county as whole. The species becomes the 671st moth species to be recorded on site in what is proving to be the best ever year for moth recording in the reserve’s history as the year list is now a minimum of 507 species.

Vestal Rhodometra sacraria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Large Wainscot Rhizedra lutosa Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Amongst the other species recorded in the last week or so included probably the reserve’s highest single night haul of Large Wainscot Rhizedra lutosa with 38 trapped on the 15th. The tally since the species first took to the wing this autumn is 222 individuals – by contrast only 339 were recorded 1992-2016.  The tenth Pale Mottled Willow Caradrina clavipalpis of the year was captured on the 14th – by comparison only 17 individuals had been trapped between 2000 and 2016.

Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

From the breeding grounds of Greenland and Iceland, Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus have been an almost daily occurrence at the reserve this month with up to 30 regular at Watton NR from mid-month and occasional large flocks flying south over the site.

While the winter gull roosting has yet to kick off, good numbers of Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus have been moving through D reservoir as the gulls drop and in and move off each day. The 13th-17th period turned over a minimum of 12 individuals, which is quite unprecedented from records in recent years for the time of year. Counts of 3, 6, 5 and 3-5 individuals over four days means it is the longest prolonged period in site history for high numbers of the species appearing on reservoir. Despite the appearance of this species, the only other bird of note seen was a Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus present mid-afternoon on the 17th.

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

For the latest news from Tophill, check out the twitter feed here.

 

The 500th moth species of the year at TLNR in East Yorkshire

Gem Nycterosea obstipata Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

October moth recording at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire carried on in the same vein as the previous nine months with surprises appearing at the lights. This Gem Nycterosea obstipata on the 3rd was only the second site record – the previous occurrence of this immigrant species being back in 2005.

Blair's Shoulder-knot Lithophane leautieri Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

First recorded in 2007, Blair’s Shoulder-Knot Lithophane leautieri had been trapped on just three occasions up until 2014, so this individual, also on the 3rd, was a welcome addition to the reserve year list.

Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

The 500th species to be recorded at Tophill Low NR this year appeared on the 5th in the form of this Dark Chestnut Conistra ligula. Another scarce species in the site’s history – this the 15th individual in 11 years.

In the past, study has been done on Lepidoptera leaf mining species and since the turn of the month several species have been recorded.

Stigmella glutinosae Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Stigmella glutinosae above was found on the 7th on Alder Alnus – the two larvae examined to separate it from the similar S. alnetella. On the same date, S. lemniscella was found on Elm Ulmus –  both new species to the Tophill Low NR species list.

Stigmella lemniscella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Stigmella plagicolella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

Two of the commoner species seen in the last few days included Stigmella plagicolella on Blackthorn Prunus and Ectoedemia albifasciella on Oak Quercus.

Ectodemia albifasciella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire October 2017

The current tally for the year 2017 is 506 species with hopefully a few more to add in the coming weeks ahead.

Away from moth recording, a small turnover of Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus has been noted on several dates with up to 3 present at any given time. Lesser Redpoll Acanthis cabaret were in evidence in small number during the first week of the month, and the same or another Great White Egret Ardea alba flew through the reserve on the 7th with several Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus through on the same date.

As ever, for the latest news from the reserve, check out the site’s blog and twitter feed here.

September bonus moths take Tophill site list to new levels

Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

Mild overnight temperatures in late September saw the moth species list of Tophill Low NR in East Yorkshire continue to grow with the maiden appearance of Brindled Green Dryobotodes eremita on the 22nd – the 667th species to be recorded on the site.

A Dusky-lemon Sallow Agrochola lota was attracted to the lights the same night and became the first reserve record since September 23rd 1988! Further individuals followed with singles trapped on the 24th, 27th and 28th across the site.

Dusky-lemon Sallow Agrochola lota Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

This Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago on the 23rd was the second reserve record – the previous occurring in 2015. A second individual was trapped a night later.

The only Tophill Low record of Mallow Larentia clavaria occurred in 2013 and a second was long overdue, but it was still a surprise to record this one on the 26th.

Mallow Larentia clavaria Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

The second Black Rustic Aporophyla nigra of the autumn, and fourth all time, was attracted to the lights on the same night, while a Eudonia angustea on the same date was the second of the year, and only the ninth Tophill record since it was first noted in 1999.

Black Rustic Aporophyla nigra Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

Eudonia angustea Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

The warm temperatures finally brought an immigrant in the form of a Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis – the 5th reserve record of the species.

Rusty Dot Pearl Udea ferrugalis Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

The total number of moth species recorded this year by the end of September totalled a minimum of 485 species, and 500 moth species by the year end is now a very real possibility. Taking into account the butterflies recorded on site in 2017, it is the first year since Tophill Low was created in 1959 that the Lepidoptera list has exceeded 500 species in a calendar year.

Two of the commoner species on show at the back end of the month included Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus comatus and Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus alongside a wonderful stand of what is ‘probably’ Verdigris Agaric Stropharia aeruginosa and the first Bearded Milkcap Lactarius torminosus of the season – the latter two species being particularly scarce on site.

Shaggy Inkcap Coprinus comatus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

Common Stinkhorn Phallus impudicus Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire September 2017

For the latest news from Tophill Low NR, check out the Twitter feed via the blog here.