Being almost mid summer this time of June is very much about diversity here on the banks of the Humber, plenty of breeding bird activity, plenty of interesting insects and also the appearance of some interesting plants.
Vipers bugloss in Horseshoe meadow
It is however typical D-day weather, never expect anything less form the British maritime influenced climate! Last years hot sunshine was an exception but this year its back to more typical summer weather, not that a bit of rain and lower temperatures can be better for many of our species that are much more at home in a cooler, wetter climate.
This male bittern that flew into Xerox lagoon yesterday really didn't seem to notice the rain and cool. You really do have to be on the ball to spot our bitterns at the moment as they can be quite unobtrusive when they fly across the Marsh, their cryptic plumage blends in very well with the Marsh.
Also keep an eye on the sky as there are quite a few spoonbills commuting over the reserve as they fly in to feed, it appears too that these birds are from Fairburn with by the looks of it at least two of the adults being the breeding pair! We've calculated its 26 miles from Fairburn as the Spoonbill flies and takes about 2hrs for the round trip, spoonbills really like to feed on Sticklebacks when breeding and that is certainly from observations is what they mostly feed on, the bird I watched at the weekend scoffing at least 200 of these spiny little fishes.
This distance of commuting really brings into mind the idea of how landscape conservation can work for some wetland birds, You can create good nesting areas on one site and then good feeding areas over 25 miles away and still have successful breeding! Would we have thought this possible 20 years ago? Food for thought indeed.......
Fly through non-breeding immature's
The barn owls have also been amazing recently particularly in the evening and sometimes on a morning. Not quite how many birds there are but possibly as many as eight birds, two of which were chasing and screeching at each other the other evening. Singleton or First hides seem to be the places to be but you can get good views anywhere on the reserve, sometimes down to 20ft.
And the one that decided it didn't want to fight!
Marsh harriers are very busy at the moment collecting food like crazy for their growing young, there are some great food passes to be seen as voles, small birds and young waterfowl are brought in along with the odd young rabbit.
And a male with prey this morning - strangely he was flying the wrong way from the nests!
Unfortunately though predation of the avocet colony was just too much again this year with several culprits taking young, however I've always said Blacktoft has had its time with avocets and its time for them to move to a new breeding area where the predators have not learned they are a good easy snack for their own chicks. The turn of events this year just again goes to prove my point. Interestingly a few nesting birds have moved to the lagoons we created on Whitton Island so it may be interesting to see if they can raise any young, although I suspect the Humber Avocets really need a whole new breeding site well away from the Upper estuary. Please note there are currently no avocets feeding on site now.
Good to see a few broods of young duck emerging with notable gadwall and pochard chicks being seen this week, the mallards are too hatching a re-lay, the cold spring weather seems to have really affected this early nesting species. Interesting duck for this time of year include a male wigeon and a single garganey sometimes seen on Singleton lagoon, also the reappearance of the pink-footed goose that tried to breed with a greylag on site.
Gadwall brood - Marshland
Mallard brood - Xerox
And how about this - talk about a white rag to a male mute swan, I wondered why he was being so aggressive the other evening protecting his family of five chicks and the female, was it another mute swan or even the otter that is semi-resident on the lagoon? Well in the end it appeared he didn't like the white of the two little egrets who where behind an island!
The black headed gull colony is at least a little fending of the marsh harriers but in terms of strange sightings how about the re-appearance of the 20 kittiwakes a week after they had been seen out towards the estuary, this time they did head west, a strange thing at this time of June when at Bempton they are just laying their eggs. Also of note have been a couple of common terns visiting the lagoons from time to time, again not a regular bird on the reserve anymore.
This kittiwake on two eggs was at the right place this weekend in the cliffs at Flamborough head
Its always a quiet week for waders but very notable is the two pairs of nesting lapwing, over the years we have lost our regular lapwings so its nice to have these about. Other odd waders include redshank, occasional black-tailed godwits and oystercatcher, but anytime soon will hopefully start to see the return of a few of the Northern breeders such as green sandpiper and spotted redshank, which will be first?
Cuckoo has been very entertaining this year with the male being very active and at times visible. The breeding warblers are a little subdued as they incubate their eggs and raise their young, but given a little patience you can still get outstanding views of cettis warbler, and reed and sedge warblers. Yellow wagtails can also bee seen often around the ponies but also near to the car park. Bearded tits are still busy feeding their second brood - they can often be seen feeding along the edge of First lagoon or whizzing over the tops of the reedbed.
There has been some nice wildlife to see around site with dragonflies and damselflies emerging, butterflies/moths, different insects on warmer days, hares, otter, and a few odds and sods that have been worthy of note in the meadow and around the paths. One very intrigueing glimpse of something slithering away from me as I spot sprayed the thistles in Horseshoe meadow was a possible sighting of slow worm - interesting because they are not meant to be present!
Four spotted chaser
Large red damselfly
Common blue butterfly
Yellow flag iris - car park pond
Toad on the footpath this morning after yesterday evenings rain - the poison glands look very red
Great burnet Horseshoe meadow - its a lot slower growing than salad burnet but this clump is just getting nicely established - it flowers later in June/July
And a mystery moth - I haven't had a lot of time to try and ID it but I do know its got a lovely smiley face on its body - any moth experts out there who can identify?
And finally this interesting Nettle gall - rather than an insect gall it is fungal - something I'd never seen before
Don't forget its our June Open day on the 16th - come and support us and treat yourself and family to a bit of home made cake!
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