Sightings from Drakelow

Tom Cockburn gives us the run down on the latest sightings at Drakelow Nature Reserve.

DRAKELOW NATURE RESERVE: W/E 31st March 2019. The week was dominated by a high pressure system that ensured light winds, sunny spells and warm temperatures. Daily coverage was again achieved ensuring a modicum of accuracy on migrant arrivals and emergence dates for insects. On the 25th there was a party of six Little Grebes on view in the Main Lagoon and seven birds elsewhere on the site. Although two birds remained on the main water the other four were not seen again. Up to four Buzzards were in the air together on the 26 and on the 27th ten Sand Martins were noted and the first Blackcap of the year was logged. There was a good count of 59 Shovelers on the 28th although numbers began to fall thereafter with only 38 counted the next day. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was found on the 29th albeit just off the site but still part of the woodland by the entrance gate. The last recorded here, in 2016, was just inside the gate so the species may be hanging on locally but in private woodland. Visitors on the 31st recorded the first Wheatear of the year, on the reserve no less, together with the first Willow Warbler and there were counts of nine singing Blackcaps and 28 Chiffchaffs. A flock of some 40 Lesser Redpolls was the best count hereabouts for some time and, on the Strip, two Green Sandpipers and 18 Snipe were seen. AMPHIBIA: The first Frog’s spawn of the season was seen in the outflow ditch from the Tertiary Lagoon – the usual location – on the 25th. LEPIDOPTERA: The first of the seasonal Orange-tip and Small Whites were noted on the 29th with Peacocks and Brimstones also featuring on the list. MAMMALS: A Hedgehog, an animal not seen locally by me for some years now was found dead, a road casualty, on the 30th. Only Rabbits and Grey Squirrels were noted on the reserve although there was ample evidence of the presence of the Badger. REPTILE: On the 30th a Red-eared Terrapin was located in the North Pool where it was attempting to absorb some of the sunshine on offer. PLANTS: The site has now become alive with the blossoms of the Prunus group that includes Blackthorn, Cherry, Cherry Plum and the Prunus sargentii planted at the edge of the reserve’s car park. The yellow of Broom and Gorse is also eye-catching as is the blue flowered Green Alkanet that has appeared by the RWPH. A Pear tree, behind the west wing of the North Pool, is now a spectacular sight. INSECTS: In addition to the butterflies Common Wasp, Buff-tailed Bumble-bees, Carder bees and Bee-flies are now a common sight. With thanks to AG, KW, RW, AB, DH, MJH, KS and AL.