12. Wild East Devon update
Wildlife is not under lockdown!
Wildlife is undoubtedly benefiting on our natures reserves from this period of social lockdown. Otter activity on Seaton Wetlands has increased from evidence of footprints and spraint on site. Their constant presence is controlling the mink population which in turn means water vole numbers are doing very well and territorial signs are present on virtually every suitable piece of pond, ditch or riverside throughout the site.
As this quiet period co-insides with bird nesting season we should hope for a very good year for birds. There are three pairs of oystercatcher on Black Hole Marsh nesting, barn owls in both locations on the Axe and for the first time in two years we have two pairs of kestrel nesting on the reserve. Song thrushes, sedge and reed warblers have all been seen nesting, while swallows and a woodpigeon have built nests in the locked Island Hide!
Away from the wetlands we are hoping for a really good year for ground-nesting nightjar on our heathland sites such as Trinity Hill, and Holyford Woods had its earliest record of active dormice this April (pictured), with two adults torpid in boxes on our first check of the year. While this would have been more weather related than covid19, the quiet in the wood will mean we should expect them to be making nests in bramble nearer the path than in other years and our management of this plant will be adjusted accordingly.
Our Wild Exmouth project has seen a big increase in support for our ‘My Patch for Nature’ campaign with the lockdown keeping people at home. This scheme gives residents of the town free wildflower seeds to help establish places for nature across people’s gardens, a community nature reserve! All pledges are then added to a google map to show how the network is taking root. If you live in Exmouth and want to take part go to the web pages for the sign up form.