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Drakelow Sightings by Tom Cockburn

Posted: Sunday 5th November 2017 by Drakelow

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Sunday 5th November, 0830 – 1700. Following a very heavy rain shower the day brightened up to become sunny with a cool NW3 wind that dropped to calm later. Two species of birds dominated the day with Mute Swans swarming on the river in the morning and Cormorants massing over the reserve at dusk. It was clear from the outset that something was happening with the swans as they were crammed into the RWPH stretch of the river with more flying into join them. Birds on the river numbered 63 with another seven on the reserve. Four groups, in all, were involved with the cause becoming obvious as crews of eight, fours and twos appeared moving upstream with attendant motor boats. The brightly coloured attire of the crews would not have looked amiss on the set of a technicolour film. At the other end of the day Cormorants were very slow to arrive with only 24 on site by 1600hrs, However, over the next 15 minutes the number increased by 77 and by 1622 a further 83 were added and in the next eight minutes another 104. Seventy-two over another ten minutes and a further 74 in 15 minutes increased the seething mass. Another 14 arrived at 1653 completing the count at 448. Whether they remained to face the fireworks of the housing estates across the river would not be known. The previous evening’s count gave only 250 birds but this total was arrived at despite a spooking episode, possibly brought about by a constantly barking dark on the Staffordshire side of the river. Other birds of note during the day included two Little Egrets and, late on, a Cattle Egret – the latter species having been added to the reserve list on the 2nd November. A Water Rail was an unlikely sighting on the drive and there was clearly an influx of Blackbirds in the same area. A Black Swan was with the Mutes on the river but flew off as the boats approached. MAMMALS: A Badger was near the reserve CP on the 4th and a Red Fox was on the river bank on the 5th. A PLEA: Will any visitors to the reserve please not go beyond the two main hides (near the car park) after 1430hrs as this has an adverse effect on roosting birds. With thanks to AG and RW.

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