A huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped plant 100 native shrubs on The Hook Nature reserve. Lots of new people stepped forward to help and organised friends and family to join them. The shrubs are threaded throughout the central part of the reserve and along by the dyke and are part of the plan to create a wildflower walk. The shrubs will provide food for insects, flowers for pollinators and berries for birds, all with the aim of increasing the biodiversity of The Hook.
The shrubs planted are: Four different sorts of wild rose – Sweet Briar, Scotch Burnet, Field and Dog Rose Alder Buckthorn – food plant of the Brimstone butterfly, berries loved by thrushes. Guelder Rose – white flowers, followed by red berries loved by birds. Spindleberry – small green flowers loved by bees, unusual red and orange fruits. Cherry plum – early flowering from Feb- May, small red/purple plums. Good for nesting bird
Birdlife of The Hook – Report by Keith Rainford of Lady Bay Birdwatchers
A total of 75 species of birds has been seen on or from the Hook Nature Reserve in 2020. The pandemic has interrupted the regular Hook Watch bird walks by Lady Bay Birdwatchers, but we managed to make 31 visits in all by small groups of between two and six people throughout the year. The visits were all made on a Saturday morning between 08.00 and 09.30. This was basically to achieve some consistency in the reporting of birds through the seasons. The walks generally comprised a single route from Holme Grove, through the centre of The Hook and a return along the northern edge with a stop along the River Trent.
No assessment has been made of how attractive each part of the area was to birds, but it was noticed on a number of occasions that activity varied significantly; sometimes the eastern half would be full of birds and the western half quiet and then the following week vice versa. On a number of occasions fluctuations in bird numbers were noticeable, particularly and not surprisingly at migration time. The autumn period was again very interesting as it became obvious that (we assume migrant) Robins and Blackbirds had swelled the numbers present in the area. On other occasions it was noted that some birds were strangely absent.
There were many highlights throughout the year, including the extended stays of the rarer warblers, the passing through of Red Kites and the presence of Water Rail and Snipe but without doubt top spot goes to two Spotted Flycatchers seen on 24 August; a superb sighting and totally unexpected.
I think it can safely be said that The Hook is a wonderful place of variety and interest.
The list of birds seen on or from The Hook in 2020 in addition to those seen in 2019 is as follows:
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Pink-footed Goose, Goosander, Red Kite, Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Skylark, Cetti’s Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Goldcrest
The 2019 list is:
Blackbird, Blue Tit, Black-headed Gull, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Coal Tit, Common Gull, Common Tern, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, Dunnock, Egyptian Goose, Feral Pigeon, Fieldfare, Garden Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Green Woodpecker, Greylag, Grey Heron, Goldfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, House Martin, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Jay, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lesser Whitethroat, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Magpie, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Redwing, Reed Bunting, Robin, Rook, Sedge Warbler, Song Thrush, Sand Martin, Sparrowhawk, Starling, Swallow, Swift, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, Wren, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Woodpigeon
A total of 75 species.
Other birds prior to 2019 are Grasshopper Warbler and Merlin which bring the overall total to 77 species.
A splendid gift for The Hook Nature Reserve. Many thanks to Nick Stevenson and family for this rowan tree. The whole family pitched in, prepared the ground dug the hole and planted the tree.
It will have scented white flowers in spring and bright red berries in the summer – great for wildlife – and will give much pleasure over the coming years. It’s on the north bank of the dyke near the other newly planted saplings.
The pond has been cleared of weed – for now. EMEC contractors donned their dry suits and got into the pond to pull up as much of the reeds as they could. They discovered a mass of rooted rhizomes in the centre, so they are working out how best to tackle that without damaging the liner.
The reeds grow from wind-blown seed, so it will need ongoing maintenance, however, pond dipping will be possible next year. Thanks to Lady Bay Community Fund for their earlier donation towards this work.
December is a great time for planting bare rooted trees. We had a great turn out of volunteers to plant more the 50 saplings donated by The Conservation Volunteers and 15 saplings from the Rushcliffe Trees Scheme.
Varieties include: bird cherry, hazel, crab apple, grey willow and rowan. These will give flowers and fruit to support wildlife throughout the year.
The saplings are small and will take a few years to grow, so will need mulching and watering to ensure they survive.
A team of volunteers has been working hard to create a Wildflower Walk, running through the orchard, past the wildlife pond and joining up with the Home Grove path.
Using traditional Austrian scythes (effective but fearsome) and modern battery driven brushcutters (much easier!) we have cut back the long grass, raked hard to create bare patches and sown seed of native wildflowers.
Hopefully the seeds will germinate over winter and will start growing in spring. We have a back-up plan though and have pre-ordered some plug plants from Naturescape just in case….
Fantastic news! The Co-op Community Fund has raised a total of £5550.24 for Friends of The Hook. A huge thank you to all those Co-op members who chose us as their local cause. This will transform our work to improve the nature reserve.
With the first instalment of this money we have already bought a brushcutter, wildflower seeds and plants to help make our Wildflower Walk.
We’ll be able to buy more wildflowers, native shrubs and trees to improve the nature reserve for both wildlife and people.
Saturday’s Hook Watch started in spectacular fashion with about 10 Long-tailed Tits flying onto Holme Grove from The Hook along with a few Great Tits – quite the noisy bunch. This was quickly followed by our first Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker for a while and then a distant large gull on the flats on the other side of the Trent which turned out to be only our second record for Great Black-backed Gull – a real monster of a bird as it took off and flew upstream.
Hopes high, we headed into the central area where it was again noticeable that Robins were vocal but Blackbird numbers low – where have they all gone? Wren was heard and seen a few times and it was nice to then have some really good views of Chaffinches. Goldfinches and Greenfinches were hard to find. Warblers are still present with a pair of Blackcap being found and after the Chiffchaff being heard singing earlier in the week, one was heard calling a couple of times.
Overhead were a few Cormorants with a small number of Black-headed Gulls and the odd Rook and Carrion Crow passing by. There were more Jackdaws passing over but, as usual they didn’t land. Magpies are still present in low numbers. On the Trent, Canada Geese numbered 68 birds, so the flock is building up nicely.
A nice morning with 26 species seen. The total for birds seen on or from The Hook is now 60 for the year and with Winter to look forward to, there is hope of getting a total of well into the 70s.
Thanks to Keith Rainford for the report and Woodland Trust for the images