FABULOUS GOLDENEYES @ TOPHILL LOW
On Thursday I headed east and visited Tophill Low Nature Reserve. Tophill Low is situated off the A164, a couple of miles east of the village of Watton between Driffield and Beverley in East Yorkshire. It is similar to Rodley Nature Reserve in set up as it has a water treatment works run by Yorkshire Water within the reserve, however this water treatment works is considerably bigger than the one at Rodley.
Tophill Low opened as a nature reserve in 1993 and has twelve hides, with seven of them being wheelchair accessible, across the three hundred acre site. The River Hull borders the eastern edge of the reserve and the two large 'D' and 'O' shaped reservoirs which have an SSSI status due to the very large number of wildfowl that can be found on the reservoirs.
The car park was being resurfaced when I arrived so I parked on the grass a hundred yards or so from the path that leads up to the Reception Hide. I walked up the boardwalk to the reception hide and on the feeder to the right of the hide were Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a lone Willow Tit. Out on the D Reservoir in front of the hide on the water there were Tufted Ducks, Black Headed Gulls and Pochards.
I left the Reception Hide and headed down the path through the woods up the eastern side of the reservoir. There were more Blue Tits, Great Tits and Chaffinches perched in the trees as I walked along the path as well as a couple of Blackbirds. After a couple of hundred yards the path takes you back to the edge of the reservoir and a short distance later a hide looking out over it. From here I was able to see Great Crested Grebes, Wigeons, Gadwalls, Teals, Mallards, Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Black Headed Gulls and several male and female Goldeneyes.
Out on the reservoir I also briefly spotted a Scaup before it disappeared from view and I did not see it again. I now headed back through the woods following the path as it continued north to a small pond where just after the path splits in two. The left hand path continues through the woods up to the top of the reservoir, the right path takes you across to the North Marsh Hide which on previous visits has been a good spot to see Kingfishers.
I took the right hand path and headed for the North Marsh where I had got some excellent photos of a Kingfisher on my last visit. Following the right hand edge of the North Marsh is the River Hull and on the top of the river bank there were a group of Greylag Geese. Swimming through the water there were a couple of Moorhens and a few Grey Herons flying overhead, but sadly no Kingfisher. I waited almost an hour to see if the Kingfisher would turn up but there was no sign so I retraced my steps and now took the left hand path heading for the north end of D reservoir.
I walked past the hide at the top of the reservoir and turned north again to the hide looking out over Hempholme Meadow. Last year Kingfishers used the man made banking in front of the hide to nest having two successful broods of five and six. Today however there was no sign of them but out on the water there were a couple of Coots and a single Little Grebe. I headed back along the path retracing my steps through the woods to the Reception Hide and continued on past spotting a trio of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flying after each other at the top of some tall trees.
The next hide I reached looks out over the North Lagoon which was very quiet apart from a lone Marsh Harrier flying along the banks of the River Hull. I moved on to the hide at the South Lagoon but this was very quiet also and the first couple of hides around the O Reservoir were quiet also. This was because work was being carried out to install a predator fence and to also install a new hide at the edge of the South Marsh.
The penultimate hide is at the southern end of the O Reservoir and looks out over the western half of the South Marsh and onto the O Reservoir. There was a lone female Goldeneye on the South Marsh and the O Reservoir was much busier with Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Coots, Gadwalls and more Goldeneyes on it. I now headed for the final hide which over looks Watton Nature Reserve and the path was quite muddy with all the recent rain.
The reserve was very busy with all the birds from the South Marsh being pushed onto here because of the maintenance work being carried out. On the water were several Mallards, Teals, Tufted Ducks and Black Headed Gulls whilst over to the far right hand side a single Little Egret sat at the edge of the water. At the edge of the water were two groups of Redshanks and a little further along there were approximately sixty Cormorants on a thin strip of land protruding into the water.
On the grass to the left of the water there were more than thirty Shelducks and more than fifty Curlews as well as several more Teals. I made my way back along the muddy path, round the O Reservoir and along the path to the Reception Hide for one last look at the feeders and D Reservoir. The feeders were still busy with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Greenfinches and Goldfinches, whilst on the ground Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Robins and Blackbirds were looking for food. About a minute after I arrived a lone Siskin arrived at the feeders and proceeded to tuck in for several minutes. On the wall of the D Reservoir a Pied Wagtail was walking along before dropping down onto the grass banking searching for food.
I have attached a few pictures and a full sightings list from my visit to Tophill Low Nature Reserve.