Every year the meadows are improving in diversity. Once the plants have flowered and set seed, the meadows are cut and the arisings removed. In this way the strong growing grassed are gradually weakened, helping make the conditions for wildflowers to thrive.
There are still some sections of the meadows with very vigorous perennial rye grass, probably sown when the fields were used for grazing. We hope to be able to tackle these sections soon by sowing them with yellow rattle, a parasitic plant which weakens the grass.
It is said that it takes 50 years to make a meadow ….. only another 40 to go!
Notts TV featured Friends of The Hook in an interesting piece about our tree planting on the reserve. We are creating a ‘green corridor’ along the river, thanks to Rushcliffe Borough Council’s free trees scheme, The piece starts 13 minutes in https://nottstv.com/…/ey-up-notts-wednesday-23rd…/
The nettles were taking over the path. No more stings thanks to our new grasscutter, bought with a grant from Rushcliffe. We’ve resumed our monthly working parties. If you’d like to get involved message us or email email@example.com to book a place.
An exciting new sighting on the reserve. At least one Spotted Flycatcher was seen on The Hook Nature Reserve yesterday – our first record of this bird species, with a number of sightings. As its name suggests it is an insect eater and usually sits patiently on a perch watching for its chance to fly out and is best identified by its darting flight pattern as it catches insects in the air. It is a greyish-brown bird, pale underneath, with a streaky crown and breast.
It was spotted from the Holme Grove path looking across the wild area towards the wildlife pond. The Spotted Flycatcher is a summer migrant, arriving from tropical Africa in May or June to breed. In August/early September they make their return migration to their wintering grounds. It’s good to know that The Hook has plenty of insects to feed them up for their return journey!
Thanks to everyone for keeping to the paths in the reserve. By creating undisturbed, wild areas it has improved the habitat for wildlife and it seems to be getting better every year. Who knows, the spotted flycatcher may return to bread next year!
We’ve been recording the different butterflies that are out and about on The Hook Nature Reserve every week. Last week we saw 35 butterflies: Large White (8) Small White (8) Red Admiral (1) Small Tortoiseshell (1) Peacock (1) Speckled Wood (4) and Gatekeeper (10)Earlier in the year we’ve also seen Small Skipper, Large Skipper, Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Brimstone, Green Veined White, Meadow Brown, Comma and Ringlet.
By keeping these records, we can see how butterflies are doing and if we can do more to help them by planting the right plants and flowers. There’s also a national ‘Big Butterfly Count’ you can join in. Butterfly Conservation is asking people to go out and spot butterflies for 15 minutes – a warm, still day is best – and send your records to them before August 9th. In this way they can build up a picture of how butterflies are doing. You can download a useful app which helps identify butterflies and find out more by following the linkhttps://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/
If you spot anything interesting on the reserve, let us know. Message Friends of The Hook on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A brilliant bird walk on Saturday morning. The undisturbed wild areas of The Hook are great for birds now. Lots of insects bringing in Swifts, Sand Martins and lots more – 30 species in a stroll round the reserve, making 49 species this year. Here’s a full report from Keith Rainford.
“What a contrast with last week and what a superb morning. The weather forecast had changed dramatically over 48 hours. What was supposed to have been a very wet morning turned warm and slightly overcast with barely no wind and that brought out the insects which in turn brought out the hirundines and Swifts. The morning started with lots of activity on the eastern fringes with lots of family parties of Goldfinches. While the Tit families seemed to be very low in numbers, it soon became evident that they weren’t the only birds active, At least two Song Thrushes going full pelt interspersed with a couple of Blackcap, lots of Greenfinch, Dunnock, Wren and the odd Blackbird. Chaffinches were noisy as were a few Robins. Black-headed Gulls were again making their lazy way up and down river followed by one or two Cormorants.
It was as we approached the central part of The Hook where it became obvious things were getting a little bit special; a comment of ‘there seems to be a lot of birds above our heads’ turned everyone’s attention skywards and indeed the insects were out and so were the Swifts and Sand Martins – absolutely loads of them – everywhere – never seen so many on The Hook. It was just fantastic to watch; strangely there were no House Martins seen with the throng. A few Black-headed Gulls joined in, two Swallows skimmed past (rare for The Hook) and then a Sparrowhawk flew very slowly overhead giving great views. Smiles all around. It didn’t stop there though. Further into The Hook, approaching the orchard area, we were just lamenting the loss of warblers this year, when another comment of ‘Is that the Sedge Warbler?’ just capped the morning. But, it didn’t stop there….while watching the Sedge Warbler, two Oystercatchers called overhead flying towards the Lady Bay Bridge area followed by Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat adding to the chorus.
Where to look next? We finished off with a few House Sparrows which seem to have crossed the path to set up home in a different patch – well done to them. For once, the Corvids and Pigeons didn’t dominate. A great advantage on this walk was the opportunity for listening to birdsong and getting real close comparisons in size and shape of the Swifts and Martins. The Hook has never looked so good. What a morning!! The Song Thrushes were still singing.”
Friends of The Hook has received a great funding boost from the Co-op Local Causes Fund. If you shop at the Co-op part of your spend will go to local community groups and you can choose Friends of The Hook to benefit. Follow the link below. All the money raised will go directly to fund improvements on the Hook Nature Reserve, buying wildflower seeds, shrubs and trees for the benefit of both people and wildlife.https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/37339
The Community Orchard on The Hook nature reserve is looking good. The fruit trees have been pruned, staked and mulched, so we’re hoping for a great harvest this summer. Friends of The Hook have been able to pay for a fruit tree expert, Marc Richmond, to come and prune the trees and advise on their care, thanks to the Co-op Local Causes fund which is raising money for us. (Details follow in a separate post.)Thanks to the many volunteers who helped over the winter, staking, feeding and mulching the trees. The trees have responded well to this extra care, so be sure to enjoy the blossom on your walk around the reserve. We’ve also planted primroses and cowslips in the orchard to create a spring wildflower walk. See if you spot them. We’re hoping they will set seed and spread in future years.
The warm spring sunshine is bringing out butterflies on the reserve, so keep a lookout and see what you can spot. On Monday we saw 3 Peacock, 3 Brimstone and 3 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies. This summer we were hoping to run a butterfly transect on the reserve. This is when a defined route is walked every week by volunteers and observations are recorded and sent to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Service. The transects are now suspended because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, however, individual volunteers will be walking the route and recording their observations as part of their daily exercise and we’ll share their observations with you. We have been a lot of work improving habitats for butterflies by planting food plants for caterpillars and nectar plants for butterflies. Caterpillars of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacocks love nettles, whilst Brimstone caterpillars love Alder Buckthorn which we planted over the winter. Let us know if you spot anything else.
All our education and conservation events are cancelled until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The reserve remains open but please use it responsibly. Keep your distance – at least 2 metres/6 feet from others. Enjoy the outdoors, but ensure that wildlife is undisturbed by keeping to the paths and keeping dogs under control.