WWA Wildlife Report - September 2002

7th September 2002

Kingfisher seen by visitors. Blooms on Butterfly Meadow will hold for open day -- good. Slight Showers have brought frogs out. MINK on bog pond, and to judge by the agonised squeaks may well have caught our last water vole in the reeds there. Can only hope it was a rat, but they don't usually frequent heavy growth of reed etc. Caused Moorhen to fly up into a tree, where it stuck, petrified, and all the ducks (only about a dozen from our usual hordes) scrunched up by the flat Spit end, where they can see predators.

14th September 2002

Many of the ducks have returned. How did they know the mink was gone? Mink trap set up on Sunday on Osier where mink looked to have a run. Was sprung by daytime on Tuesday. Richard heroically volunteered to don chest waders and retrieve trap and mink, which first tried shrieking, then smelling him to death! Mink was either female or subadult and sinuously beautiful. She was only doing her job -- what a pity she and her kind should have to die because of man's greed and stupidity. Keith Seaman came and took her away to be put down humanely, and he didn't charge us, either, bless him. (AND he's left us his other trap to use until we get our own.)

21st September 2002

Pair of Jays seen again on Alban Way end of site. Pair of Kingfishers have also been sighted on and off round the water Dogwoods and Spindles are all out in gorgeous Autumn colour, and there are still many blossoms out: Corn Marigold, Evening Primrose, Poppies, Bloody Cranesbill, Field Pansy (a first) Mallow and Field Scabious. Middle of the week rang Andrew Branch of the City Arborist to pick his brains about the disease that has been striking the Crack Willows in and around the WWA site. He has researched and as far as he can determine it is either Willow Scab or Anthracnose. If Willow Scab it may well affect fruit trees -- he already has reports of stricken Crab apples. We will do him a favour if we monitor ours (may be what has infected the Voyager apple and the Conference pear?) Andrew says that the national arborists' publication does not report any nationwide infection. It is not supposed to be a killer unless the affected tree is stressed already ( fungus, old age, root damage etc) so sit it out and accept any losses. He has high hopes of the rejuvenating effect of coppicing and pollarding, and is running an exercise on affected trees in Verulamium Park. He would appreciate any data we can give him on how our pollards fare in comparison to standards as we go through our site modules.

28th September 2002

Two Emperor dragonflies, one at top, the other by Blockhouse, patrolling about the Mere. Susan's bees very agitated, hurtling around the hive. Swans and their now full grown babies paid the site a visit last week and Muntjac also reported. Mouse caught by cat brought to l6A Thursday, AOK Friday. Had good look, was a Wood mouse. Blooms still out, especially on Butterfly Meadow, and Spindles all neon pink. Lots of fallen apples in Orchard, lovely Autumnal cidery smell there.

Next report (October 2002)