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Drakelow Sightings by Tom Cockburn

Posted: Tuesday 17th October 2017 by Drakelow

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Tuesday 17th October 1000 – 1830. This was a visit to access any damage that might have been caused by the strong, overnight winds of the 16th, the aftermath of hurricane Ophelia. The only evidence of the gale was branches and twigs that were strewn along the roads and paths. A limb of a fallen willow partially blocked the Causeway but was quickly cleared by the wardens on site. In general the day was blessed with sunny periods but the SW-3/4 wind tempered any heat generated by the sun. ODONATA: Up to 15 Common Darters and two Migrant Hawkers were noted. BUTTERFLIES: At least ten Red Admirals were seen with practically all of them associated with Bramble bushes. HYMENOPTERA: At least ten Hornets were counted in a sheltered area where there were flowering Himalayan Balsams. None of the insects were seen to land. MAMMALS: Doing my usual inward circuit I failed to locate any Rabbits but when I left, after sunset, the same route produced seven animals. A Grey Squirrel was seen as it crossed the driveway on the inward journey but no more that visit. A Mink was reported when it was seen dashing across a gap in the reeds below the GFH. The presence of Badgers on the reserve was revealed by many snuffle marks along the roadways. REPTILE: The Yellow-bellied Pond Slider was still to be seen on the 16th. BIRDS: Along a half-mile stretch of the river there was a total of 34 Mute Swans with a further five on the reserve. Only two cygnets were in this total. On the same expanse of river 190 Canada’s were counted together with four redheaded Goosanders. Ten Little Grebes were on the ML. A count of 30 Mallards did not come near the previous day’s 150 or so birds. Similarly Wigeon were counted at 40 where the total on the 16th was 80. Other species of note included two Little Egrets, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, and Cetti’s Warbler. During the roost count of Cormorants four Jays crossed the ML one after the other. The Cormorant total had increased to 313 from the previous count of 212 on the 14th and 204 on the 7th. Other roosting birds were some 300 Jackdaws and, over the course of the counting session, some 120 Starlings moved through the site. Winter thrush numbers are not yet a feature with the best count to date of 78 on the 15th. A pair of Stonechats was a welcome sight on the 16th when they were viewed on the top of a Hawthorn bush just short of the CP. With thanks to AG, RW and KW.

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