Monday, 18 February 2013

An American (mink) in Rother

 Article: Heather Martin 18/02/2013

At the end of last week I went to check the level of the water in our seasonal pond in the wood. It has been exceptionally high recently. As I approached the rim, I heard a splash and saw surface ripples spreading out from behind the submerged base of a large alder tree. I fully expected to see a Mallard appear that occasionally visits, so was really surprised when a dark brown furry mammal about the size of a small domestic cat swam into view!

The noise I made rummaging for my camera alerted the animal to my presence - it left the water and bounded up the bank towards the deer fence where it paused to let Rodney stride past oblivious, then ducked underneath and disappeared amongst the trees.

American mink at the water's edge
 An interesting encounter because I have never seen an American Mink (Neovison vison) in the wild before but an unwelcome visitor unless its voracious appetite for all other suitably sized wildlife includes another equally unwelcome invasive species - the Grey Squirrel!

An invasive and an evasive species
The first mink were brought to Britain in 1929 to be bred in fur farms and all wild mink are descendants of escapees from these. They rapidly spread across the country and have been a major factor in the decimation of our native Water Vole (Arvicola amphibious) population.
Male mink can grow up to 47 cm long plus a tail length of about 15 cm. Their fluffy coats are a very dark brown in colour and they are agile climbers as well as good swimmers. Although mink usually live close to any kind of waterway, they are also capable of living anywhere enough prey is available as their diet not only includes the creatures you would expect to find in an aquatic habitat but also rabbits, rodents,  small birds and their eggs, and invertebrates.

More on Water Voles from the Wildlife Trusts

More on Americian Mink from the Wildlife Trusts

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Battle of Hastings 1066

I have noticed that many of the referring websites to this blog are often searches for information on the Battle of Hastings, the Caldbec Hill posts do seem to be popular. So in that spirit I have posted some pictures taken from the top of Caldbec Hill (Kingsmead).

Cold weather blowing in from the North West
As I linked to an article from the Guardian last week, in the interests of impartiality and bipartisanship here are a couple of links to The Telegraph website to articles about the Battle of Hastings.





The running battle brewing in 1066 country

Alternative battle site down in the valley?







Are bodies of 10,000 lost warriors from Battle of Hastings buried in this field?

The view to the north
Willow catkins, a joy to behold.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Vanishing Moths

News Report

Following a press release of a report by Butterfly Conservation and Rothamsted Research a photo-gallery article appears on the Guardian Website;
The moths vanishing from Britain's night skies - in pictures

and a link to the accompanying Guardian article by Patrick Barkham.