Tophill Low - 26th April 2015

It was a lovely warm spring morning – blue sky, scattered white fluffy clouds and only a faint breeze – when we set off from the Guild and it was to remain the same throughout the day. Along the way to Yorkshire, farmland birds were spotted, namely, pheasants, lapwings, corvids and wood pigeons, and a Buzzard and Kestrel.

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Arriving at Tophill Low Nature Reserve we were met by the warden, who briefly introduced the site, a mixture of reservoirs, pools, marshland, riverine, woodland, hay meadows and scrub. At the centre of the Tophill Low Nature Reserve is a Yorkshire Water treatment plant. The reserve is approximately 2.5 kilometres long and 0.75 kilometres wide and is bounded on the westerly side by the Beverley and Barmston Drain and by the River Hull on the easterly side.

The ‘D’ reservoir to the North West of the site had the usual common ducks, Mallard and Tufted, Coots, as well as Goldeneye and a Red-crested Pochard. Common Terns were seen diving into the reservoir waters, whilst Yellow Wagtails were seen on the retaining walls. In the woodland and scrub surrounding this reservoir the summer migrants, Blackcaps, Willow Warbler, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs were both heard and seen. Also in the woodland were spotted Blue/Great/Long tailed Tits along with Treecreepers and Goldcrests. From a hide in this woodland that overlooks the North Marsh and River Hull, two very loud and squabbling Greylag Geese prevented any views of the Kingfisher, which usual inhabits that stretch of the reserve. Instead huge grass snakes up to a metre long were spotted lazily swimming in the open water and reeds (these creatures are apparently very common at Tophill Low).

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On the lagoons Mute Swans, Grebes (both Little and Great crested) were seen together with other ducks. Grey Herons were viewed on the margins of the water searching for food.

Over the ‘O’ reservoir, House Martins, Sand Martins and Swallows were flying rapidly and swooping dexterously over the water and hopefully catching insects on the wing. There were certainly many insects in this area to annoy birdwatchers! To the east of the ‘O’ reservoir Sedge Warblers could be heard and seen in the reeds surrounding the area of the East Pond. Also in this area many butterflies were very obviously enjoying the sun and the wildflowers.

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From the hides overlooking the Southern Marshes could be seen waders, Greenshank, Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, and the summer visitor Whimbrel, feeding on the mud flats along with Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal and Shoveler. In the air above the marshes were the hirundines and gulls and then the appearance of the Marsh Harrier, which gave a remarkable and fantastic aerial display that could be seen clearly from the hide and appreciated by all.

The south scrub area yielded a Lesser Whitethroat and more common woodland birds.

Overall, Tophill Low Nature Reserve lived up to expectations as a delightful and productive reserve in spring time. A total of 74 species were seen and 5 heard (Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Cetti’s Warbler, Mistle Thrush and Reed Warbler).

Photos by Robert D

JUDITH R

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