From rare raptors to diminutive orchids, gain inspiration for your next visit with a summary of your sightings from Gosforth Nature Reserve
Gosforth Nature Reserve (GNR) is open for NHSN members only, between 9.00 am-6.00 pm. Events and access for non-members are not yet available to help limit contact between visitors and volunteers. If you wish to visit, please bring your NHSN membership card or renewal/joining email. See here for full information on visiting GNR.
Rick Thornton enjoyed a wonderful encounter with a visiting Hobby at the reserve last week, taking a number of lovely photographs of the scarce raptor as it hunted above the lake. Hobby is an uncommon visitor to the reserve and remains a scarce species across North East England.
Elsewhere this week, other visitors enjoyed sightings of Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard; while a Kingfisher put in an appearance, delighting those in the Ridley Hide. Around the lake, Little Egret and Water Rail were observed and plenty of Reed Warbler continue to sing from the reedbed. In the air, good numbers of Swift and House Martin were seen; with smaller numbers of Swallow thrown in for good measure.
Reserve warden, Paul Drummond, was pleased to record a Whitethroat in the Lake Lodge garden this week while Philip Jordan and Jane Gray reported the appearance of Lapwing chicks nearby. A large party of Ring-necked Parakeets were also seen towards the Western boundary of the reserve.
Volunteer Ranger, Oliver O’Doherty, was delighted to come face-to-face with a Badger during one of his recent patrols; while a handful of lucky visitors to the Ridley Hide enjoyed good views of a hunting Otter. Foxes were observed on multiple occasions over the past fortnight and the reserve’s population of Roe Deer continue to delight visitors on the quieter woodland tracks.
The most exciting mammal news this week comes from NHSN members Lydia Koelmans and Bill Burlton who were lucky enough to encounter a Red Squirrel on the reserve. This sighting follows further records towards the back-end of 2019 and suggests that this iconic species maintains its toehold in the area. If you see a Red Squirrel on site, please do let us know.
Butterfly surveyors, Philip Jordan and Jane Gray, recorded a healthy range of butterflies on their most recent transect, including Dingy Skipper – a species of conservation concern in the North East. Other butterflies seen included Small Heath, Common Blue and Large Skipper in the meadow, alongside Peacock and Speckled Wood. Orange-tip and Small Tortoiseshell were observed by volunteers in the Lake Lodge garden.
Paul Drummond and James Common recorded a number of bee species in the Lake Lodge garden as part of the North East Bee Hunt. While some of these, including Tree Bumblebee and Early Bumblebee, were commonplace, others such as Field Cuckoo Bee, Vestal Cuckoo Bee and Fork-tailed Flower Bee are scarcely recorded.
Other invertebrate sightings this week include some interesting hoverflies – Pied Hoverfly and Spotty-eyed Dronefly – as well as Four-spotted Chaser, and three species of Damselfly: Large Red, Common Bue and Blue-tailed. An interesting Longhorn Beetle found near Lake Lodge was revealed to be Pachytodes cerambyciformis. Summer is a fantastic time to observe and enjoy some of the reserve’s smaller residents.
Dry weather this spring means that many of GNR’s wildflowers are not looking their best. Still, a number of rare Coralroot Orchid can be observed from the reserve’s viewing platform. If you intend to seek out the orchids, please read this post first.
In the woodland, the curious leaves of Marsh Pennywort can now be seen; while Paul Drummond reports that the foliage of another orchid, the Broad-leaved Helleborine, has started to appear. Lydia Koelmans also found a single plant of Hedgerow Crane’s-bill growing in plain sight by the reserve entrance.
Across the wetland, the flowers of Yellow Iris, Water Crowfoot, Ragged Robin and Woody Nightshade can now be enjoyed, while visitors to the meadow can experience a lovely display of Yellow Rattle and other meadowland wildflowers.
Could you help inspire wonder about Gosforth Nature Reserve and ensure that visitors to the reserve receive a friendly welcome? If so, why not join us as a Volunteer Ranger.
Our team of dedicated rangers are the friendly face of the reserve and, supported by NHSN staff, welcome guests, record wildlife and inspire about the site. We are incredibly grateful to our Volunteer Rangers for their hard work and support – it is thanks to you that the reserve is open for members to enjoy.
We’re looking for more people to join our team of Volunteer Rangers and would love to hear from anyone interested. Please email Clare Freeman, firstname.lastname@example.org, for further information.
By James Common, Local Naturalist