Drakelow sightings by Thomas Cockburn

Thomas' sightings from a warm and sunny day at Drakelow in the south of Derbyshire.

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Tuesday 3rd July 0645 – 1530. A temperature range from 11C to 27C was mitigated by an increasing NE/ENE wind. Many plants are now showing some form of drought stress but the water famine has done nothing to inhibit the growth of bramble plants. PLANTS: Recently spotted flowers include Water Bistort, Privet (sp), Purple Loosestrife, Upright Hedge Parsley, and Meadow Sweet. The heavily scented Privet, massed by the Educational hide, is in particularly good blossom and is a magnet for several species of butterflies and other insects. DRAGONFLIES: Brown (seven) and Sothern Hawkers (five) are now being noted over a wider area with a few Black-tailed Skimmers and Four Spotted Chasers. A Broad-bodied Chaser has now been recorded (and photographed) flying to and from the same plant stem that is located outside the Educational hide, and below the Privet, since 29th June. A male Emperor was patrolling the fish pond waters and this species can be found in any of the lagoons. BUTTERFLIES: All the expected commoner species have now been logged with Meadow Browns and Ringlets now quite common and Gatekeepers are beginning to increase. The flowers of the Privet have been attracting good numbers that include second brood specimens of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma with the last mentioned occurring as a paler summer variety although one or two are more richly hued. BIRDS: Grey Herons are all over the reserve with seven together in the Secondary Lagoon a good number away from the North Pool heronry. Little Egrets are now virtually of daily occurrence but if you want to see numbers you will have to be on the reserve around 0330-0430 to see up to 17 roosting birds making their exit. Coots are enjoying a better year than last so far as rearing young is concerned and several pairs are now bringing off second broods. Up to seven Mandarins have been seen, in the North Pool, and the recent appearance of a single Shoveler and Teal indicate the turn in the year for the ducks. Waders include Green Sandpiper (two on the 1st July) and two Oystercatchers that have been appearing on the Strip. All the Canada’s on site are clearly in moult as are many of the ducks. Now that the tennis is underway at Wimbledon we can expected Tufted Ducks to appear with their young, being much later than our Mallards. The small Black-headed Gull colony seems to have failed although there was a free-flying juvenile seen on the 1st July (not reared at Drakelow). Four Common Terns come and go, being seen over most of the waters at some time in the day. WARNING: With the fairly strong E to NE winds prevailing it is imperative that when opening the entrance gates that the bolts are housed in the road recesses to prevent the gates swinging (they open through 180 degrees) and causing damage to vehicles parked too close (allow at least 12 feet). With thanks to AG, RW and KW.