DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Friday 3rd August 0700 – 1530. Despite a temperature range, from 18C to 25C, there was little sunshine during the visit. The continuing drought has seriously depleted the Tertiary Lagoon with a mere puddle now the only water left. This ash lagoon, a relic of the power station’s ash disposal system, would benefit from some form of water control. Thinking back to March, when flood conditions prevailed, even the water gauge was under water. During the period of the operational power station there seemed no problem in controlling the water level by the use of boards in the decanting chamber. PLANTS: Despite my misgivings, in an earlier blog, on the drought affected Elderberry plants a Wood Pigeon was watched as it avidly fed on Elderberries just outside the Educational Hide. Similarly Brambles have thrived in many spots producing succulent berries. Another plant that appears during long dry conditions is the Flowering Rush. Many stems of this plant have appeared along the shallow, muddy river edge and is easily seen from the approach road from the RWPH to the CP. It is many years since I recorded this particular species of plant as it only seems to appear in these drought conditions. BUTTERFLIES: The cloudy and overcast conditions were not conducive to butterfly recording although a Copper Underwing moth was captured as it fluttered against the Education Hide windows. Regardless of the cloudy conditions AL carried out a transect survey over the SK22 section of the reserve and returned a good count of 40 Common Blues, 22 Speckled Woods and 26 Meadow Browns. BIRDS: Surprisingly, at 0715, the Cormorant roost was still occupied with a rough count giving over 200 birds. It wasn’t until 0825 that there was a mass exodus with most birds leaving to the SW. Of the birds remaining scrutiny showed that most were juvenile birds that had adjourned to the Strip. Two Mandarins were on view below the Education Hide and the eclipse Garganey was found trying to pass itself off as a Mallard in the Secondary Lagoon. On the Strip the three juvenile Little Egrets were present, with an adult bird, and three others were elsewhere on the reserve. Five Green Sandpipers, three Oystercatchers and two Lapwings represented the waders – all on the Strip. Trying to gain a foothold on the Strip were Black-headed Gulls and there was an eventual count of 130 although the bulk were displaced by the arrival of several juvenile Herons. Singing birds are vet few at the moment with only brief snatches from a Cetti’s Warbler, Wrens and the occasional Wood Pigeon. With thanks to KW, KS, AB, DH and MJH.
Drakelow sighting reported by Tom Cockburn
On the Strip the three juvenile Little Egrets were present.