Friday, 18 August 2017

Tophill Low

Last weekend we drove over to check out Tophill Low nature reserve near Driffield, it's run in conjunction with Yorkshire Water and has been open as a nature reserve for over 20 years. It was easy to find despite being down lots of windy country roads!

As we turned in a Hare leapt in front of the car, we stopped but it panicked and couldn't get back in the fence and ended up running down the road in front of us before finally finding a gap.


There is a ticket machine just off the car park when you get there, but it had an out of order, pay next time sign on and we couldn't see anyone to ask about it so we headed in via a boardwalk in through the woods and overlooking a pond. The main hide is large and has places to set your scopes/cameras if you like. It looks out over D Reservoir and also a feeding station off to the side.


The reservoir was covered in Coots, i've never seen so many! Though when you looked closer there were Tufted Ducks, Cormorants, Swans, and in the distance quite a few Gulls.


We sat and watched Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Great/Blue Tits and a Tree Sparrow at the feeder. The hide was great and there are glass cases with lots of different books that held my interest for a while until I was urged to move on. We went down the hide stairs and out onto the path to walk around the reservoir spotting a Buzzard flying about the woods.


At the first hide which again looks out on to the reservoir, a Great Crested Grebe was on the water right outside.


After this hide the path leads into the woods past a pond with a feeding station and heading up to the North Marsh, which was quiet though we did spot a couple of small birds in the reeds - warblers possibly? Now we had a bit of an issue in here when my daughter spotted a couple of large moths settled on the inside of the hide, her phobia of moths and butterflies is getting worse and she had to leave and refused point blank to go in another hide for the rest of the day!



Spot the Moorhen!


We saw a few of these Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetles around the reserve.


Outside the hide we were distracted for a moment by this beautiful Southern Hawker.




Then we were surrounded by chirping - several Goldcrest flitting around the trees above our heads, too quick for the camera but we watched them for a while.

A few Gulls were flying over the water as we looked from the next hide and I picked out BH Gulls and I think Little Gulls too. There were quite a few gulls sat on the wall but a Buzzard scared them off before we could check them out properly.


There were signs on the next hide requesting quiet due to Kingfishers nesting, of course they were not around now! We did however see lots of snails and butterflies and the odd dragonfly around the paths.






We watched a large flock of Tits - Long-tailed and Blue mostly and in the middle of them what looked like a Chiffchaff.


This tiny bug landed on the path in front of us, it was only that my husband saw it move that we didn't mistake it for a bit of a plant! I think it's a Green Shieldbug Nymph?


Back at the car park we stopped for lunch and the ticket machine was working now so I paid and felt happier doing that!

Walking the other way towards O Reservoir the Budleia was full of Butterflies, if only the ones in my garden were so well used!



There were more butterflies and moths flying up out of the grass as we walked around the reservoir, my daughter did not fair well here and was all for going home! I'm not sure where this fear has come from and i'm not sure what we can do about it?!



Terns and Gulls were flying over the water and I realised after the fact that I had my camera on the wrong setting arghh!! From the hides along the way looking over the marshes we saw Green Sandpipers, Goosander, Little Egrets, Heron and Teal.



Going into one of the hides by the lagoon I spooked a bird that was in there, a Robin maybe? From the hide we saw a young Great Crested Grebe, Gadwall and a Little Grebe and just before we left a Kingfisher flew across and perched on a tree in the distance for a minute.


We realised we'd missed the path for the Watton Nature Reserve but decided not to go back as time was getting on now so we headed back for the car. It's a bigger reserve than I thought and I think we really need to spend a bit more time here to see what else it has to offer, so we'll be back!



Monday, 14 August 2017

St Aidan's

St Aidan's had a litter pick for the reserve on Sunday so we headed over to help out. It was a gorgeous day, lots of sun and very warm! Also people were swimming in the lake, i'm not sure i'd want to do that!



Quite a few people turned up (you can see the photo on the social media account). After  we had the health and safety chat and signed the relevant paperwork we all headed out to a part of the reserve we've not walked before via a path leading off the car park. This is definitely the worst part of the reserve for rubbish, lots of bottles and cans!


There are some lovely looking ponds around here and we'll definitely be exploring this side further next time we come. We did manage to stop and check out the Common Scoter on the lake - a new bird for me. 

The banks were just buzzing with bees, flies and butterflies, the flowers looked beautiful and luckily this area wasn't too bad for rubbish. Unfortunately one of the things we did find a few of was discarded poop bags.......full ones.......i'll never understand the mentality of picking up the poop then flinging it in a bush, why would you do that??




The option of heading back to the visitors centre was suggested at one point because it had got so hot but a few of us carried on. Some saw a Kingfisher fly over the path but we missed it! We saw plenty of geese though plus Lapwings, a couple of Common Terns, Cormorants, Mallards and Coots.



Taking a breather


I was taking a couple of photos of the butterflies and one of the other guys mentioned that a Clouded Yellow Butterfly had been seen a little further ahead. It was right where he said it was and we watched it fly around for a little while, i've never seen one before and unfortunately only got one really dreadful photo as it didn't settle on anything for more than a second or two. Very pretty and very yellow!



I must admit we were flagging a little as the visitor centre came back into view in the distance and we were heading up the rear of the group now. Plus we did keep stopping to look at things along the way including a Kestrel hovering in the sky and a Small Copper hidden in the grass.


Reaching the centre we added our bag to the pile, there was quite a few, everyone picked quite a bit of rubbish along the way. We made for the tea waiting for us - the best cup of tea, much needed, thank you!! It was nice to sit and chat a while and have a bite to eat too. Everyone we spoke to today - all the RSPB folks and the folks doing the litter pick were lovely, it makes a difference and especially for my daughter as people made the effort to speak to her too, that doesn't always happen and she gets quite put out, she likes to talk! 

We couldn't leave without checking out the dragline for the Little Owls that have nested there and eventually we saw two of them.


That grey blob in the middle is the owl (honest!) 


We really enjoyed today, it's a shame there is litter to pick in the first place of course but it's great to get people involved this way. We'll be happy to help out at the next one!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Rodley Nature Reserve

After discovering how easy it is to get to Rodley NR on the bus (I don't always have the car on a weekend when my husband is working and this weekend it was in the garage anyway!) we hopped over there on Saturday morning.

The lagoon was a little quiet, with a few BH Gulls, GC and Little Grebes amongst others with Sand Martins and Swifts overhead.




We found a few toads in the mini beast homes, they were quick to hop off so we didn't disturb them for long.


From the Reedbed hide we were lucky enough to get a brief glimpse of a Kingfisher as it landed for a few seconds on the new landing posts there. Not long after a Water Rail ran across the gully just by it too. I didn't have my camera in my hand for either, typically and they were too quick for photos!

There were a few damselflies around the pond but they didn't settle long, mostly we saw snails and the odd hoverfly! 




Walking down the river walk I could see some guys with a scope on a bird out on the scrubland there, flying in and out of a tree, I watched it through the binoculars and the gentleman very kindly let me look through the scope - a Spotted Flycatcher!

After taking a walk through the hay meadow we sat at a picnic table overlooking the reserve for some lunch. Lovely to sit amongst the butterflies on the surrounding Buddleia (unfortunately my daughter was not impressed, she has issues with butterflies coming within a 10ft radius - slightly challenging!). We saw Peacock, Comma, Small White, Ringlet and Gatekeeper.







Up to the managers garden to watch Bullfinch and Greenfinch at the feeders. Greenfinch are few and far between everywhere I go at the moment. I've seen one in Morley since early spring though that was a juvenile so I suppose that's promising at least. The new hide that's being put up here is looking good, there'll be plenty of viewing spots once it's open. 



A good day out!