A VOLERY OF YELLOW WAGTAILS @ 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.
It was a bright sunny day as I approached the reserve and sat on concrete fence posts which line parts of the approach road were a trio of Yellow Wagtails. Once I arrived I walked up the wooden walkway to the reception hide and as I neared the entrance to the hide I saw a Roe Deer bounding along the grass to the left away from the hide. On the feeders to the right of the hide there were a pair of Goldfinches and out on D reservoir in front of the hide there was a group of Tufted Ducks and a single Great Crested Grebe.
I left the hide and headed out northwards on the Blue Route walking through the trees and following the path back to the edge of the reservoir and the next hide which looks out over the reservoir. On the reservoir and flying low over it were several Black Headed Gulls but not much else so I left the hide and continued on to where the path splits in two. I took the right hand path and headed for the North Marsh Hide where on previous visits I had excellent views of a Kingfisher.
Sadly there was no Kingfisher today, however there were several Greylag Geese winding their way along the water and in the reeds to the right of the hide there were Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings. I now made my way back towards the point were the path had split in two but as I walked a long a Stoat emerged from the bushes and as soon as it saw me it scurried back into them. A little further along a Blackcap was singing from a tree and before I could get a photo it flew off and landed a lot higher up in another tree.
I turned northwards, this time taking the left hand path and continued through the woods till I emerged and followed the path round the reservoir. There was a hide at the top of the reservoir but this had been taken down since my last visit and I continued on towards the Hempholme Meadow. In the previous couple of weeks a Purple Heron had been spotted but today it was very quiet with just a couple of Coots and a Grey Heron flying along the river bank to the right.
I had stopped to eat my lunch in the hide when all of a sudden a large group of Marsh Frogs started calling, producing a very loud audible noise. I retraced my steps back along the path and as I reached the edge of the reservoir there were several Sand Martins and a large group of Swifts zooming overhead. Further along the path, as it turned into the woodland, I walked past a male Pheasant and as I reached the start of the path I saw Chaffinches, Great Tits, Robins and Blackbirds amongst the trees.
I now turned onto the Gold Route and after a short distance I saw another male Blackcap in the trees but like the previous one it flew off before I could get a photo. As I reached the North Lagoon Hide I spotted a Comma Butterfly perched on a leaf and in front of the hide there were Greylag Geese, Mallards and Gadwalls with a Herring Gull flying along the banks of the River Hull. I left the hide and followed the road south till it reached a gate, which I opened and went through and just to my left the chorus of Marsh Frogs started up again.
Amongst the reeds there was a Mute Swan sat on its nest with its partner keeping an eye on it from the South Lagoon. I walked round to the South Lagoon Hide and from here I could see the Mute Swan on its nest and several Greylags out on the lagoon as the Marsh Frogs continued to call. I walked round the O reservoir to the hide over looking the eastern end of the South Marsh. The reserve is in the middle of building a new photography hide just to the left of this hide but had currently suspended work on it due to the bird breeding season being in full swing.
From this hide I was able to see several Greylag Geese, Mallards and Black Headed Gulls as well as a few Canada Geese and a lone Lapwing and Common Tern. I left the hide and headed further round the reservoir past the South Marsh West & East Hides, which were currently being worked on, and on to the hide at the western end of the South Marsh. From here I saw Black Headed Gulls, Mute Swans and a pair of Common Terns.
I left the hide and walked back along the route all the way to the Reception Hide where a Blue Tit was perched on a branch high above the feeders. As I drove back down the approach road the number of Yellow Wagtails had now increased to six and they were regularly perching on the concrete posts and the rusty fence. In the field there were a group of six Linnets and several Red Legged Partridges and a single Yellowhammer rose up and flew off over the field of oil seed rape.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to Tophill Low Nature Reserve.