Tophill Low – 01/04/2017

Paid a very long overdue visit to this cracking Yorkshire Water reserve, to meet up with a couple of friends, Martin and Doug. Shortly after arrival the sunny start to the morning gave way to more overcast conditions, with a moderate breeze blowing keeping things cool. Things eventually brightened up in the afternoon with temperatures just getting into low double figures. Picked up a few first for the year on the birding front, with some fresh migrant in, and also some long-staying wintering birds. Best of these was the Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis on ‘D’ Reservoir which has been present for a couple of months, along with several Goldeneye Bucephala clangula still present. Also over the reservoir the recently arrived Sand Martin Riparia riparia were a true sign that the migrants are starting to arrive en-masse, this month being the key month for arrivals, with most species hitting our shores within the next four weeks. Also fresh in were a singing Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla by the ‘D’ Res. east hide and a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus near the north hide. Other new year birds for me included a pair of Pintail Anas acuta on South Marsh East, plus the Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti making you aware of their presence with their ‘exploding’ song, difficult to miss. Other nice birds present included a female Goosander Mergus merganser on Watton Borrow Pits with a nice congregation of 33 Curlew Numenius arquata resting up here. Last but not least, was the showy female Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, allowing me to obtain some nice shots of this species, rather than she usual blue flash as they fly rapidly by.

Kingfisher - Alcedo atthisKingfisher – Alcedo atthis

Goldeneye - Bucephala clangulaGoldeneye – Bucephala clangula

Conditions weren’t great for invertebrates, though judicious searching revealed some nice little gems. A couple of Shieldbugs found included a Blue Shieldbug Zicrona caerulea, normally find these low to the ground, but this individual was on the branch of a pine tree, always nice to find these. Hawthorn Shieldbug Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale was the other species encountered. A few Ladybird species recorded today consisting of Larch Ladybird Aphidecta obliterata, Kidney-spot Ladybird Chilocorus renipustulatus, Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis and 7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata, all submitted and already accepted by the Ladybird Survey Scheme via iRecord. A few bees recorded included Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius, White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum, Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum and a single Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva. A parasite of some of the bees species is the Bee Fly Bombylius major, with several observed today. They are an unusual looking beast covered in hairs, with a long proboscis, which to the uninitiated looks like a giant front facing sting!

Larch Ladybird - Aphidecta obliterataLarch Ladybird – Aphidecta obliterata

Bee Fly - Bombylius majorBee Fly – Bombylius major

Lepidoptera were not in short supply with the moth traps set by Martin and Doug. Highlight for me was the Water Carpets Lampropteryx suffumata, a species I’ve not seen, or trapped at home. Two different colour forms today from this variable species, both illustrated below. Whilst walking around the perimeter of ‘O’ Res. an Angles Shades Phlogophora meticulosa caterpillar was a nice find. Little activity from the butterflies, only a single Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae putting in an appearance late afternoon. A couple of other miscellaneous bit and pieces induced a Slender Groundhopper Tetrix subulata, around ‘O’ Res. and a couple of Great Crested Newts Triturus cristatus around the South Marshes.

70.103 Water Carpet - Lampropteryx suffumataWater Carpet – Lampropteryx suffumata

70.103 Water Carpet - Lampropteryx suffumataWater Carpet – Lampropteryx suffumata

Full set of photos from this visit can be found on my Flickr site.