Thursday, 17 March 2011

Mole seen down a hole in a hill

Spring is moving on at full speed now, confirmation being the first, of very many, Common Daisies in flower in my lawn.  

Common Daisy
Wild plants I saw in flower for the first time this year, today,  are the 'weeds'  Hairy Bitter-cress, Red Deadnettle & Shepherd's Purse and by the South Burn Marsh Marigold and Goat Willow

Hairy Bitter-cress

On a non-floral and more unusual front, I was walking up the road by Smith’s Field and was amazed at how many molehills are along that stretch.  I was thinking about counting them for a few metres when something caught my eye on one of them. A Mole appeared, stretched out, grabbed some dry grass and went back in again. It took me quite by surprise because I can probably count on one hand the number of live Moles I’ve ever seen. I assume it was getting some bedding for it's nest.
So that makes 5 species of mammal I’ve seen OFFH (on foot from home)  this year, together with 28 species of flower,13 moths and 80 species of bird.
Just before I turned into Waldridge Road, a large female Sparrowhawk that was obviously perched up in one of the Grey Alders flew off and across the road towards the village. That is at least the fourth individual I have seen around the estate this winter.

I haven't been down the riverside for a little while but I hear that yesterday and again today, the Whooper Swan was reported back down there plus the male Scaup & 2 Mandarin. Looks like the Scaup may also be an escapee or a feral bird, despite it turning up originally in immature plumage. More disturbing is that I hear a Mink was also seen down there yesterday. Though undoubtably reliable I am surprised that one was seen here as Otters which are also present here occupy a similar niche in the ecosystem and being six times bigger I would have thought would drive the Mink out. Hopefully that is the case and the Mink is just a transient. Having said all that, Otters can do just as much damage to nesting birds (and fish) as Mink and are not as nice and cuddly as their press reports.

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