Currently, Gosforth Nature Reserve is open for NHSN members only, between 9.00 am-6.00 pm, with last admission at 5.00 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.
Recently, Volunteer Rangers, James Dodsworth and Lydia Koelmans spotted a female Marsh Harrier on the reserve and a second individual was encountered by Philip Jordan and Jane Gray on a visit last Thursday. Elsewhere, a lucky member encountered a Hobby over the lake and Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel put in near-daily appearances in what appears to be a good fortnight for raptors on the reserve. A Tawny Owl was also reported in the vicinity of the boathouse.
Around the wetland, a duo of Kingfishers continue to show well daily from the Ridley Hide and Little Egrets continues to be seen on-site, with four birds spotted on Saturday 25 July. Here too, the Gadwall ducklings continue to do well and Water Rails make fleeting appearances on the exposed mud outside the hide. In a rare occurrence, an adult Water Rail was ringed on site this week by Philip Jordan and Jane Gray.
Elsewhere on the reserve, migrating Crossbills have been seen on multiple occasions, a Greenshank was heard and the Gosforth Nature Reserve Photography Group has been chock-full of wonderful images of Grey Herons feeding on Perch. A Green Sandpiper was reported briefly flying over the lake and a new brood of Lapwing was discovered by Philip Jordan and Jane Gray nearby.
Other species encountered this week include Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Shoveler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Ring-necked Parakeet.
Local naturalist, Chris Wren, captured more fabulous footage of the reserve’s resident Otters recently (take a look); while particularly lucky visitors continue to spot at least one Otter from the hides.
In other news, Philip Jordan encountered a family party of Weasels near the reserve entrance and a Fox provided an exhilarating encounter for two visitors, despite proving difficult to photograph. Roe Deer continue to be spotted daily, with last months young now able to keep pace with the adult deer, and signs of Badger continue to appear right across the reserve. As previous weeks have shown, a daylight encounter with this species is indeed possible, if a little unlikely!
Small mammals seen this week include Field Vole, Wood Mouse and Common Shrew; while a mole continues to do its best to undermine Reserve Warden, Paul Drummond’s, new pond at Lake Lodge.
Right on cue, Andy and Harry Atkinson spotted the reserves first White-letter Hairstreak of the year in the layby at the reserve entrance. Over the days since, sunnier intervals have seen a number of visitors enjoy this scarce little butterfly in the Wych Elms here and it always pays to have quick look upon arrival. Following their emergence a fortnight past, Purple Hairstreak continue to be seen, albeit distantly in the tops of the oaks.
Other butterfly sightings this week include Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Skipper, Green-veined White, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Ringlet. A Gold-speckled Clothes Moth, recorded by again by Harry and Andy Atkinson, marked the first county record for 45 years; Volunteer Rangers were overjoyed to spot a Hummingbird Hawk-moth in the Lake Lodge garden.
Southern Hawker dragonflies are now on the wing at the reserve, with an impressive individual seen by Ian Hogg in the Lake Lodge garden; while freshly emerged Common Darters were recorded by a number of visitors this week. Emperor continue to be seen around the drainage ponds and a single Broad-bodied Chaser was noted.
As for some of the more obscure invertebrates encountered this week, Philip Jordan recorded Four-banded Longhorn beetle, as well as Tenthredo mesomelo, a vibrant little sawfly. A Fork-tailed Flower Bee was seen on multiple occasions in the Lake Lodge garden, where a Ruby-tailed Wasp was also observed.
What to look for this week?
With Bitterns now returning to other sites in the North East, including Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s East Chevington reserve, it cannot be long until the first reappears here. Each year, Bitterns are encountered from both the Pearce and Ridley Hides, usually with a little patience…
As wading birds return from their northern breeding grounds, there is always the chance of a surprise encounter at the reserve. The exposed mud outside the Ridley Hide and large pond outside the reserve are prime places to check.
Insect-wise, look out for White-letter Hairstreak in the vicinity of Wych Elm and for the reappearance of Comma and Peacock as these species come into their second generation.
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