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.
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.
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).
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.