Trip to Tophill – A Day With No Egrets


On Tuesday I ventured out to Tophill Low Nature Reserve. Tophill is one of my favourite reserves. Always something interesting and rarely do I go and not get a new bird for the year. For those reading this blog who are not familiar with Toppers it is nature reserve built around an active Yorkshire Water treatment works. It consists of two large reservoirs which have SSSI status. The river Hull runs along side of the site and there is a variety habitats from woodland, to grass and marshes.

My main targets for the day was to try to see Pintail, Smew, Coal Tit and Goldcrest. I was also secretly hoping to see the Cattle Egret that had been seen on and around the site for the past few weeks. Sadly (or egrettably) I didn’t see the Cattle Egret nor the Pintail. The Egret was spooked by shooting activity on the surrounding land and wasn’t seen all day. I don’t know how I missed the pintail…

I did get great views of Goldcrest though, some coming so close I could have flicked them. Although I wouldn’t do that, I would like to stroke one under its chin however… TREECREEPERS were also very active in the D Res woods. I always love watching these mouse like birds scurry up trees, this was the first time however that I’d seen a treecreeper scuttle along the bottom of a branch up side down and was great behaviour to watch.

Also seen in the woods were plenty of Bullfinches. Which is funny as last year I only saw one bullfinch and this year I’ve already seen eight times as many by the end of January. I got my first lifer of the day with a willow tit by the feeders.  I was mainly looking out for a Coal Tit to add to my year list and happened to spot one.

At my favourite part of the site the hide overlooking Watton Nature Reserve I was able to pick up my second lifer of the day and Egyptian Goose. I also saw my second sparrowhawk of the year. Yet another bird a struggled to see last year. I couldn’t pick out the smew on the water from my vantage point due to a crowded hide. It’s a shame the hide is so small when it’s probably the best part of the site. I decided to move on and managed to pick up my a buzzard soaring, as I walked back towards the reservoir I met Erich who excitedly informed me about an Iceland gull on the reservoir. I went into the hide overlooking O reservoir and a somebody kindly showed me the gull in his scope before I set up my scope and managed to pick it out myself among the mass of other gulls on the water.

After picking up the gull I decided to head back to the Watton hide to see if I could find the Smew before heading off home and I was rewarded with my efforts by two fantastic looking female Smew. Sadly not the gorgeous new romantic drake Smew but still a Smew. I was glad to finally catch up with another smew, I’d got one at Tophill last January but only a quick glimpse and was never fully satisfied with the sighting so was good to get another view.  A pair of Curlew had also appeared.

I also saw around a six kestrels or just one very busy kestrel flying around the site. Managed to get three lifers and knock the year list up to 79. I seem to be doing well compared to last year. I hope it continues.

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