The latest sightings at Drakelow

Thomas Cockburn talks us through the latest sightings.

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: Saturday 12th October 2019 1345 to 1845hrs. WARNING: Just when we thought we were getting away with it a day of very heavy rain (11th) upped the ante. The notorious flood pool that had only been a couple of inches deep mid-week measured just below six inches when I arrived. More rain is forecast overnight so the depth could increase and then there is the run off… Drivers are advised that they go through the water at their own risk. There is no alternative route. Parking on the roadway and walking in is not advised as E-ON would have to be approached to permit this not to mention solar farm traffic coming and going. For anyone that doesn’t know the road is the responsibility of the site owners – E-ON. If you do manage to the reserve you will find it well under water although there is access to the North Hide but other paths are under water or, if passable, very slippery underfoot. However, watching from the two main hides, near to the CP, is unimpaired with good views of an expanse of water. As most birds are observable from these two hides there is little profit in walking round. If you are lucky, as I was, duck from outlying areas or other reserves may arrive en masse. Although my visit was to count Cormorants – 193 if you must know – around 1600hrs ducks began to pour in. In all a count from the Educational Hide gave 86 Mallards, 16 Teal and 42 Wigeon. However, by dusk, a large proportion of the wildfowl had flown out again. Other Mallard and Wigeon certainly carried on through. This added to the birds already on the water with Shovelers numbering 11, Gadwall 29 and 23 Tufties. From 1341 to 1813 there were no less than 35 hits on Jays moving, usually SE to NW and back again, but never any more that two birds were seen at any one time. Birds that came close to the hide were clearly carrying acorns to their winter cache somewhere nearby. Late on a Great White Egret dropped into the roosting area as did at least eight Little Egrets. BUTTERFLY: Earlier in the afternoon a Speckled Wood was active near the Warden’s Hut. MAMMALS: Three Grey Squirrels and a Rabbit were seen on the way in and on the outward journey four Rabbits and a Badger. Earlier in the week a Muntjac and Polecat/Ferret had been logged.