DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: W/E 11th August 2019. Due to the recent heavy rains the on-site water level remains high. With the Strip mostly under water there is little scope for waders with only a single Green Sandpiper appearing occasionally and, even then, visits a flood pool off the reserve. A very early start on the 7th rewarded AG with sightings of four Great White Egrets and 22 Little Egrets leaving their roosting spot. This was surpassed on the 11th when five Great Whites and 41 Little Egrets were counted out. The duck population has been somewhat variable with Gadwalls peaking at 138 on the 7th but numbers are falling away as the birds regain their flight feathers. A raft of some 40 flightless Tufted Ducks has been on the ML over the last couple of weeks with the numbers elsewhere on site making it up to the mid-sixties. A female Tufted that originally had ten or 11 ducklings is now down to six. Raptors include two Hobbies, Kestrel and Buzzards. Breeding Coots have had a torrid time with, seemingly, only seven young reaching the fledgling stage with six of them from one brood. On the 7th a Barn Owl was seen crossing the site and Tawny Owls have been heard in the region of the gate. BUTTERFLIES: A site meeting on the 7th enabled the butterfly transects to be covered simultaneously over most of the accessible areas resulting in the recording of 15 species. Good counts included 48 Green-veined Whites with 45 in the SK21 sector. The Brown Argus totalled 19 with one individual showing white, instead of black, wing spots. Other high counts were Gatekeeper with 68 and Meadow Brown with 64. There was a count of 14 Common Blues (12 in SK21) and a single Holly Blue haunted a bramble patch by the entrance gate. This count would have, no doubt, been enhanced but for the mowing of a large section of grassland carried out by the solar farm work force some days earlier. The reasoning behind this action is hard to understand as the lost grassland is nowhere near the solar panels. DRAGONFLIES: Unfortunately, this group of insects has been neglected partly due to the high water level covering the dipping platform at the Bamboo Pool and the overgrowing of the footpaths by the fish pond. Still on the wing during the last week were Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed Damsel, Black –tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker, Emperor, Common and Ruddy Darter. Up to five Migrant Hawkers recorded on the drive on the 7th were the first of the season. PLANTS: Although not a botanist I do take an interest in the plant-life on site and, on the 7th, was surprised to find several plants of the Bristly Ox-tongue along with a patch of Wild Carrot. On the same date RW photographed a group of Harebells. The last mentioned has persisted over many years and represents the only record on the site – that I know about. With thanks to RW, AG, KW, AB, DH, AL, NC and MJH.
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