Drakelow sighting report by Thomas Cockburn

A much brighter afternoon followed a very cool and overcast morning with the temperature struggling to reach 15C by mid-afternoon.

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Tuesday 5th June 0745 – 1530. A much brighter afternoon followed a very cool and overcast morning with the temperature struggling to reach 15C by mid-afternoon. There was a F/3 ENE wind throughout the visit. BIRDS: There was little to report but Oystercatchers, Great Crested Grebes and Mute Swans maintained their two, two and four young respectively. The Canada’s and Greylags, with goslings, have left the reserve area although some 70 adult Canada’s were logged on the 3rd. Singing birds were somewhat scarce, presumably due to the wind but a Lesser Whitethroat and Cetti’s Warbler were in song by the Warden’s hut. Earlier logged records noted that the Little Egret roost held 15 birds on the 3rd and on the same date a pair of Egyptian Geese appeared with four young. This is the second brood recorded this year. A Cormorant roost count was carried out on the evening of the 3rd and 233 birds were logged. Other records of note included a Ring-necked Parakeet flying through early on the 3rd. Two drake Mandarin Ducks are still present in the North Pool but are somewhat elusive. BUTTERFLIES: A Small Skipper, noted on 29th May by A. Large, was exceptionally early and ahead of the first Large Skipper noted on the 2nd June. An immaculate Painted Lady was photographed in the reserve CP area on the 3rd and a count of 16 Small Heaths in SK21 on the same date was impressive. DRAGONFLIES: After a slow start numbers of Banded Demoiselles, Blue-tailed and Common Blue Damsels can now be reported as abundant. Four-spotted Chasers are now appearing with a count of seven on the 5th June. A male Emperor was seen on the 2nd June and there was a count of six Black-tailed Skimmers but as yet no ‘blue’ males. On 9th May an intriguing ‘hawker’ was watched patrolling a reed fringed lagoon for some 20 minutes but other than noting that it was smaller than a Southern Hawker there were no distinguishing features noted and the beastie never landed so went unidentified. MAMMALS: The Rabbit population remains somewhat meagre but several kits have now been seen. Muntjac and Badger have both been seen in the last week or two but, for some reason, Grey Squirrels are few and far between. FOOTFALL FOR MAY: The writer managed 13 visits this year against 15 in 2017. Others numbered 173 against 147 in 2017 – this include a party of 50 monitored by the DWT. With thanks to AG, KW, RW, AB, DH and PH.