Brockholes Nature Reserve – 8th September 2013

For our first outing of the new session we were going to Brockholes Nature Reserve near Preston, which was somewhere different we hadn’t been before which is always interesting. It was also nice to have two new members in Keith and Tony who joined us for the first time. This is a new reserve that was only opened to the public at Easter 2011 by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. It is free to walk round the reserve but there is a charge for parking your car with an increasing amount the longer you are there.  Here's a link to the types of habitat that can be found there: Brockholes Habitats

One part of the reserve edges on to the River Ribble where we were heading first but as we stopped part way to look at a Reed Bunting perched on a small bush Joan spotted a beautiful female Roe Deer just quietly walking into the reeds and long grasses growing all round the bush. There wasn’t much on the river but while we were in this area we saw a Buzzard in the distance being mobbed by six Crows, a Sparrowhawk flew past us and a little later we saw a Kestrel. Later we saw two Buzzards soaring round together over the trees and just after this we once again saw a single bird being mobbed but this time by a Sparrowhawk which would not give up as it went on for some time. On a few occasions we saw the Buzzard flip over onto its back so its talons were now pointing upwards to defend itself against the Sparrowhawk diving at it from above.

From here we made our way to a wooded area but just before we reached this we came across a sheltered corner in the sunshine where there was a Blackberry patch with a lot of Himalayan Balsam growing through it but it was attracting a number of dragonflies that settled on the leaves to enjoy the warm sunshine. There was Migrant Hawker, Brown Hawker and both male and female Common Darter. These were also joined by the odd Speckled Wood Butterfly at times and a Blackbird, which was attracted by the ripening fruit. Once in the wood we had birds such as Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Wren.

In other parts of the reserve are two large areas of water with a few bird hides around the edges but there was nothing too unusual on these waters. We saw the usual Canada Geese, Mute Swan and Mallard plus a few Tufted Duck and Teal. There was also a Little Grebe, some Cormorants and Grey Heron but the only waders we saw were a few Lapwing. On one occasion a small group of these birds took to the air and we noticed they had an unusual companion flying with them which was a single Starling. The ducks on one of these waters had also been joined by a Black Swan that must have escaped from somewhere. As we walked round House Martins had been seen and as we arrived back at the cars a Swallow flew over our heads.

The only other butterfly we saw was Large White but we did get a good look at a caterpillar of the Buff Tip Moth. Most of the flowers were now gone but there were still patches of Bird’s Foot Trefoil in flower Marsh Woundwort and the last remaining flowers on the Purple Loosestrife could be seen. Another bush that was looking good was the Guelder Rose that had clusters of its shiny berries starting to turn red which eventually will provide food for the birds.

This is still a young reserve so hopefully in time it will improve and maybe a visit at a different time in the year might give us more birds to look at, nevertheless I hope everyone enjoyed it, in particular Keith and Tony and we look forward to them joining us again for our trips out etc.

As always thanks to Al for organising the trip and to Joan and Jim for my lift.

Jeff Hurst 

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