What a gorgeous creature. Spotted on my first Fen Raft Spider survey by our guiding light Ellen, here it was feeding on frogbit, an aquatic plant that looks like miniature lily-leaves. Its name means “frog bite” for reasons that are not clear to me or an eminent aquatic botanist I asked. Its Latin name reflects its meaning: Hydrocharis morsus-ranae. Morsus = bite, ranae = of a frog. Answers on a postcard please!
This is a European water vole, now a threatened species in this country. Its population has declined by over 90% since the 1960s, largely thanks to a spreading population of the foreign invading predatory American mink but also due to farming and watercourse practices. It’s been protected by the UK government since 2008. Curiously in France, farmers are campaigning against the water vole, which they say is causing crop damage.
SWT is doing its bit for water voles by trapping and destroying mink and creating new wetlands and habitat for them,
Here are some pics of the ravishing rodent
and a video clip. Apologies to wildlife cameramen everywhere for the quality. This was strictly very impromptu amateur photography on a windy day with no monopod or tripod.
An important project run by the UEA studying the Lapwing population on Carlton Marshes involved ringing Lapwing chicks. Here’s a bird in the hand we saw on my very first introductory walk around Carlton.
According the the Big Butterfly Count, although the Gatekeeper butterfly did very badly in 2016, its numbers rose 24% by 2017. I used the app to take part and log as many butterflies as I could. Here’s one from Carlton:
On my first fen raft spider survey in July, this family of swans paddled slowly past us, not in the least interested in us clumsy humans on the dyke. Feeding happily amongst the water soldiers and reeds and apparently totally oblivious of us. I love the simple beauty in the sinuous curve of a swan’s neck -a living sculpture in flesh and feather.
Much later in the season, on the last day of the survey, in October, I saw them again. I’m pretty sure this is the same family. The cygnets are losing their youngster down which is becoming peppered with white feathers. They have grown well.
Here are some random images from Carlton -just things I liked when I saw them.
Two young swallows on a gate. Though they can fly, their mother was swooping down with tasty insects for them to eat. Weaning on the wing?
There are often cows on Carlton. This one was looking intently at us from a distance. In a rather sinister way, I thought.
The Pooh Bear cloud. This perfect little cloud immediately reminded me of Pooh Bear floating up a tree, pretending to be a cloud whilst suspended from a balloon, to get to a bees’ nest where he might find Hunny.
Very shy and seemingly nervous, this individual ran at speed from the dyke just opposite us on a ditch we were surveying, only feet away. She bounded away in one direction, then turned and ran back and away in the opposite direction, giving me just enough time to get my camera out and zoomed in. I was panning by hand at full 1000 mm zoom without support, so I was pleased to get any shots at all, but I am happy with the movement these snaps show.
Native to South-East Asia, they are not under threat in the UK where they are thriving, but their numbers are declining in their home habitat. The UK is thought to have 10% of the world population, originating from deer that escaped from Whipsnade Zoo in 1929. They had been brought to London Zoo in 1873.