Drakelow Nature Reserve sightings report by Tom Cockburn

Woodcocks at dusk

Monday 12th November 0915 – 1645. This was a rather cold day with a SSE 2 wind and a temperature ranging from 8c to 13c. There had been some rain that made a little difference to the Tertiary Lagoon but a deluge is required to bring it up to a reasonable level. The National Wildfowl Count carried out on the 11th gave Mute Swan 33; Canada Goose: 89; Greylag Goose – six; Mallard 121; Teal 60; Gadwall 147; Wigeon 51; Shoveler 23; Tufted Duck 44; Pochard; Goldeneye – two and Goosander – nine. The Cormorant count, carried out the evening before, had registered a hefty 445 birds. Other records over the period 7th to 12th November included the very elusive Hooded Merganser which seems to remain on site but out of sight for long periods. Wader species were up to seven Snipe, Woodcock and Green Sandpiper. The Great White Egret was around until the 10th when there was also a count of five Little Egrets. The commonest raptor is the Sparrowhawk which, on the 10th, was seen a dozen or more times as it constantly visited the feeding station area. A male Merlin gave a good start to that day and a sighting of two Woodcocks at dusk rounded the day off very nicely. On the 12th the Black-headed Gulls totalled c350 but the presence of Sparrowhawk swooping round the vegetation on the Strip, seemingly after the Snipe, was too much for them and they dispersed together with a couple of Common Gulls and a L.B.B. Gull. Briefly seen that same day were two female/juvenile Red-crested Pochards. The birds were in the colloquially named Terrapin Pool but departed immediately on my appearance due to there being little cover for an observer at this particular pool. Finally, an odd-ball leucistic duck that is usually seen in the company of Mallards is thought, on structure, to be a hybrid Mallard x Pintail. With thanks to MJH, RW, KS, JS, AS, MD-S and PU.