More Harvest Mouse nests at Thames Road Wetland

On a grey afternoon at Thames Road Wetland yesterday (29th August), with only the occasional short period of sunshine, another four Harvest Mouse nests were found in the course of keeping  a key pathway open to access Marsh Sow-thistle planting locations. It is likely that if a proper search was conducted, more could be located. It is hard to believe that nests would have been missed in the past, given the management regime and intimate observation of the locations concerned since 2010 – but perhaps the animals have been present for a year or two at such low levels that the occasional nest was overlooked. It could be that the increasing density of suitable plants, including Common Reed and Sedges (Reedmace appears an unsuitable medium for weaving the nests into), has led to colonisation off the neighbouring  Stanham farm, or from the marshes via the adjacent railway embankment.

The Slade Green to Dartford railway embankment and bridge over Thames Road, adjacent to Thames Road Wetland, provides a potential habitat corridor out to the marshes, and into Kent. (Photo: Chris Rose).

The Slade Green to Dartford railway embankment and bridge over Thames Road, adjacent to Thames Road Wetland, provides a potential habitat corridor out to the marshes, and into Kent. (Photo: Chris Rose).

Things were very quiet on the bird front, summer migrants such as the Reed Warblers now being long gone, but there were about 10 House Martins over the farm for a short while, and the usual south/south-westerly procession of over-flying Carrion Crows towards dusk. A Grey Heron was flushed and vocally expressed its disapproval once airborne.

Banded Demoiselles usually stick to the Cray, but a lone male was seen on the wetland, and a couple of Common Darters were also noted.

The recent rain means a continuing high water table, and three of the temporary pools at the east end of the site were already full of water for the coming autumn and winter. Ground conditions generally appear to have engineered a subtle shift in vegetation patterns in several areas.

The composition of emergent vegetation is still changing, with Common Reed and these Sedges 'on the march'. There is a Harvest Mouse nest a few inches in from the the margin of this patch of Sedge. (Photo: Chris Rose)

The composition of emergent vegetation is still changing, with Common Reed and these Sedges ‘on the march’. There is a Harvest Mouse nest a few inches in from the the margin of this patch of Sedge. (Photo: Chris Rose)

There was a good late show of bright yellow Bird’s-foot Trefoil flowers up by the main road, where the single plant of Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) was doing well, a far less common plant in the Borough, and at TRW,  than the related Weld (Reseda luteola).

The drier conditions of the flat area by Thames Road favours a different suite of species, including several pea-family plants, such as this Bird's-foot Trefoil.

The drier conditions of the flat area by Thames Road favours a different suite of species, including several pea-family plants, such as this Bird’s-foot Trefoil. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Wild Mignonette (Photo: Chris Rose)

Wild Mignonette at TRW (Photo: Chris Rose)

It was pleasing to see the single plant of the blue-flowered lettuce relative Chicory surviving on the sewer embankment, another rather occasional species in the Borough.

 Wild Chicory (Cichorium intybus), a blue-flowered Dandelion relative, on the sewer pipe embankment. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Wild Chicory (Cichorium intybus), a blue-flowered Dandelion relative, on the sewer pipe embankment. (Photo: Chris Rose)

East of the Wansunt, the pools remain dominated by Greater Reedmace, even though the prevailing wind direction ought to be blowing Common Reed seed this way! (Photo: Chris Rose)

East of the Wansunt, the pools remain dominated by Greater Reedmace, even though the prevailing wind direction ought to be blowing Common Reed seed this way! (Photo: Chris Rose)

 

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