Gosforth Nature Reserve 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.
Your sightings from the reserve
Some of the greatest excitement this week has come from the reserve’s smaller residents. Dragonflies have been top of the agenda for many, with Broad-bodied Chaser and Four-spotted Chaser now on the wing. Christopher Wren also reports that the first Emperor dragonflies are now on the wing; while Azure, Common Blue and Large Red Damselflies can be seen around the ponds.
Spurred on by some warmer weather, butterflies have increased tenfold at the reserve. The years’ first Ringlet and Meadow Brown are now on the wing, while Philip Jordan and Jane Gray report Common Blue, Small Heath, Large Skipper and Speckled Wood. Numbers of Red Admiral have increased too with these large and impressive butterflies favouring the meadow area to the rear of the reserve.
Philip and Jane also reported a duo of impressive beetles this week Four-banded Longhorn beetle noted, alongside Common Sexton Beetle. James Common and Catherine Montgomery were thrilled to catch sight of a Rhinoceros Beetle by Lake Lodge, as well both Orange and 22-spot Ladybirds.
Bee records from the reserve this week as part of the North East Bee Hunt included an uncharacteristically late Early Mining Bee, Vestal Cuckoo Bee and what was likely a Forest Cuckoo Bee. Young naturalist, David Raffle, also recorded what could be an exciting first for the reserve in the sawfly, Tenthredo livida.
Finally, a pair of mating moths found on site were identified as Red-necked Footman – a typically southern species spreading north as a result of a changing climate.
Visitor, Dan Clark, was lucky to enjoy an up-close encounter with a Fox close to the reserve entrance; while other visitors have once again enjoyed views of a roaming dog Otter from the Ridley Hide. Weasels were seen twice over the past fortnight and Reserve Warden, Paul Drummond, reports a memorable encounter with a diving Water Shrew.
Roe Deer, as ever, continue to delight visitors to the reserve and it is wonderful to see the various fawns growing bigger by the day.
First reported by Philip Jordan and seen since by many visitors, a brood of Gadwall on the reserve mark a notable breeding record. David Raffle encountered a Garden Warbler near the screen and Lydia Koelmans and a visiting naturalist enjoyed the sight of a group of Crossbill passing over.
Water Rail were seen (and heard) on many occasions this week and the reedbed and surrounding scrub continue to chime with the song of Sedge, Reed and Willow Warbler. A Green Woodpecker was heard by Catherine Montgomery in the wood, marking the long-awaited return of a Gosforth Nature Reserve regular following months of silence.
Fledgelings are growing more prominent by the day at the reserve with Grey Herons now joining the ranks of the species who have enjoyed a successful breeding season on site. In the wood, fledgeling Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also encountered.
Philip Jordan and Jane Gray also reported Ring-necked Parakeet attending a nest site close to the reserve.
After a healthy dose of the rain, the reserves meadow area is looking even more vibrant. Common Spotted Orchids have now appeared in reasonable numbers and the deep-purple blooms of Betony mix with the flowers of Yellow Rattle, Oxeye Daisy and Ragged Robin to create a very beautiful sight.
In the wood, the Coralroot Orchids have passed but the many Foxgloves that blanket the reserve are now putting on a fantastic display – equally as appealing to bees and they are human visitors.
In the reedbed and around the pond-dipping area, Greater Spearwort, Bittersweet, Flag Iris and Water Forget-me-not continue to flower.
The freshly disturbed verges outside GNR are worth a visit for passing botanists with adventive species like Opium Poppy and Yellow Chamomille now blooming, alongside good numbers of Common Poppy, Scentless Mayweed and other natives.
What to look for this week?
It cannot be long now until some of the reserves most beautiful butterflies take to the wing. Keep an eye out around Wych Elm for White-letter Hairstreak and in the tops of Oak for Purple Hairstreak. Small Skipper should be on the wing fairly soon too, with previous years yielding sightings in both the meadow and near Lake Lodge.
Following a confirmed sighting of Red Squirrel on-site a fortnight past, it is also worth investigating any movement in the canopy in the hope of a repeat encounter.
We’d love to hear about your wildlife encounters at Gosforth Nature Reserve! No creature is too small and whether you’re recording insects, plants, mammals or birds (or anything else, for that matter), please do get in touch on social media or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Equally, if you would like to contribute photos to future wildlife updates or the NHSN e-news, please get in touch.
By James Common, local naturalist