Otter Spraint in situ
A few hardy Society members braved the aftermath of Storm Katie to walk around Linford Lakes Nature Reserve, ably guided by Society Vice-President Martin Kincaid, an expert local naturalist employed by the Parks Trust who manage the Reserve.
Martin pointed out a number of interesting wildlife waste products on the way round.
Firstly otter spraints. Otters have been observed at LLNR in recent years, and the characteristic fish scales make up much of these spraints. They have a characteristic and rather pleasant odour composed of a mix of fish and new-mown hay.
Contrast with the next dropping the participants found, that of the introduced pest species, the American mink, which has had a serious impact on water vole populations across the country.
The droppings of a third mustelid (weasel family) found at LLNR were also found, the badger. These resemble smallish dog faeces.
Also found was the scat of another local carnivore, the fox. These do not in fact share the characteristic odour of this animal.
Finally the last faeces found was that of a small deer, almost certainly that of a muntjac although just possibly a roe deer.
The walk found more than just a load of faeces. Notable species seen in the flesh were the Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding at the bird feeders near the LLNR Centre.
A variety of waterfowl visible from the centre hides, such as a Great Crested Grebe.
A Common Toad found burrowing under one of the corrugated iron sheets put down by the Parks Trust to encourage lizards, snakes and amphibians. Martin informed us that toads appeared to be in decline due to lack of suitable spawning sites. They spawn in water a degree or two colder than frogs and for this and other reasons require deeper ponds than frogs do.
Thanks to Martin and the Parks Trust for this interesting tour of a valuable local site. To visit this site you will need a Permit, available at a modest cost from the Parks Trust by clicking this link.
All photos taken by Steve Brady