2011 is the year of our Water Vole habitat management trial along one of the ditches just west of New Gate, Winchelsea. After completing vegetation management in February, creating a wiggly channel of open water with scalloped “bays”, the electric fence went live on 10th March. This will protect the bank from trampling and poaching by livestock and leave the voles a wider strip of grass to feed on. Their activity will be monitored from next month. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for the 'Mammals' Category
I found this recently dead Common Shrew this morning beside a footpath and put it in a life-like pose… in life they are too quick to photograph. Shrews are often found like this and it is a good means of identifying our 3 species – Common, Pigmy and Water (please let us know if you find a Water Shrew). Click here for more information.
Just off the beach at St Leonards this morning a Grey Seal lolloping happily about in the water. Following Pete’s notes on the big numbers of Great crested Grebes I counted 160 offshore between West St Leonards and Glyne Gap this morning. In addition a Red-necked Grebe among about twenty of the Great Crested grebes not too far off the boats at Bulverhythe (although a telescope rested on a winch hut roof was needed for a proper view) watched swimming, diving and even preening and 2 Grey Plovers were joined by a Purple Sandpiper on the shingle roost.
With an "easy" Bittern in prospect I got to the Castle Water hide at dawn and despite there being no Bittern there was a lot to see. 300 Lapwing roosting on the ice, some showing frost on the feathers!
Old habits die hard, and one of these is the New Year’s Day bird list. I went out after breakfast into a gentle sprinkling of snow, but sudden squally gusts were threatening a wet blizzard and I began to have my doubts about the whole exercise! However, miraculously everything went calm again and the sun came out, so off we walked to Castle Water. Back for lunch, then a look at the river and the Rye Hill lanes and paths to top up the day’s total, a modest 60 species. Highlights included 33 Golden Plover on the castle fields, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 Pintail and a female Ruddy Duck (but no Smew) from the hide, Common Sandpiper and Barn Owl on the river, and Sparrowhawk, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and three parties of L.T. Tits on the hill. The most unexpected find, however, was a Wood Mouse (or Long-tailed Field Mouse) quietly snuffling about by the railway path near Brede Lock.
Wildlife sometimes turns up in the strangest of places. The most peculiar record I have heard about this year was the common seal that was feeding on goldfish in a garden pond, 18 miles inland at Benenden, having presumable navigated up the River Rother. Had it been my pond I would have been putting it down to too much Christmas alcohol.
Because great crested newts are a protected species developers are required to undertake surveys of ponds before proposing development on or near them. The intention is to determine if this amphibian is present, and then recommend mitigation to prevent damage to the newt population. The survey is usually undertaken by an independent ecological consultant holding a licence to disturb newts. Natural England, who are responsible for licensing such work, require that effective survey methods are used to determine if newts are likely to be present.
One of the best ways to confirm if newts are present in a pond is the bottle trap, made by cutting off the cone top of a squash bottle and inverting it into the bottom half of the bottle. All very Heath-Robinson, but a surprisingly effective way of determining the presence of this species, so much so that if you do not use traps you will be asked to justify their ommision when your report is delivered.
So far so good, but there is a problem Read the rest of this entry »
I recently noticed a mound of dirty stones on the shingle, about 50 metres from the shoreline. All 200 or so pebbles had apparently come from a small hole in the shingle under a Bittersweet plant. I have assumed such holes to be made by a Field Mouse, but find it hard to imagine a little mouse carrying each of these from underground and then up to 50 cm. away from the hole. Anyway it may make an ideal Bumblebee nest one day…