Drakelow sighting reported by Tom Cockburn

It’s amazing the difference a few days can make when looking for plants.

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Thursday 21st June: 0945 – 1530. Although it was a bright sunny start it was not long before cloud began to arrive. Wind, though, was the main problem coming from the NNW at F5 making butterfly chasing somewhat difficult although the temperature eventually got up to 17C. BIRDS: A complete circuit of the reserve produced very little by way of species. Three Little Egrets were standing on tree roots in the North Pool and a further three were found wading in the shallow Tertiary Lagoon. At least seven young Grey Herons were seen away from the Heronry with several other birds flying in and out of the reserve. Around 17 Gadwalls and eight Mallards were feeding in a large area of Duckweed in the North Pool and a further 50 Mallards were in the ML with the likelihood of more hidden in the verdant Strip. BUTTERFLIES: A total of 13 species were logged including the first Essex Skipper of the season and two Painted Ladies together with very fresh-looking Small Tortoiseshells and Commas. DRAGONFLIES: Nine species were listed with a male Southern Hawker and two Brown Hawkers the pick of the group. REPTILE: A Yellow-bellied Pond Slider seems to have taken a liking to a rock below the GFH having now been recorded there on several occasions. MAMMALS: Only two Rabbits, one Grey Squirrel and a dead Mole represented the group but a Muntjac was logged on the 20th (MJH). PLANTS: It’s amazing the difference a few days can make when looking for plants. Not seen on a visit on the 18th but strikingly obvious today were Musk Mallow, Agrimony, Hedge Woundwort, White Campion, White Water-lily and Purple Loosestrife. Before leaving an hour was spent on car paint-work scratch reduction techniques (cutting back brambles on the drive). Some of the adventurous runners of the Bramble brought to mind John Wyndham’s Sci-fi novel The Day of the Triffids, such was their rapid growth over a week. It did lead me to muse over the early days of the reserve, in the seventies and eighties, when all that was needed were binoculars, notebook and pen. Now one has to be armed with secateurs, loppers and a machete. THANKS: Visitors owe a debt of gratitude to Messrs Garton and Walker for tackling the overgrown path to the Tertiary Lagoon and also to Rose Williams who undertook to clear the path from the Warden’s Hut to the colloquially named Ringer’s Corner. An excellent job – well done!