Making a Wildflower Walk September 2020

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….

Co-op donate £5550.24 to FrOTH November 2020

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.

Hook Bird Watch 30 September 2020

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

Meadow Flowers July 2020

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!

Cutting Back Nettles September 2020

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 friendsofthehook@gmail.com to book a place.

Spotted Flycatcher 25 August 2020

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!

Big Butterfly Count July 2020

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 friendsofthehook@gmail.com

49 Bird Species so far 14 June 2020

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.”

49 species this year for The Hook.”

Funding Boost from The Co-op April 2020

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