Our weather has been marvellous over the last few weeks; it has encouraged nature to get a move on. According to the weather forecasters, changes will occur tomorrow: clouds and rain will predominate. It will be cooler, too. I guess life can’t be good all the time.
The marsh and Hoo Wood are leafing-up nicely. Birds are nesting; vixens are tending their cubs; cattle are happily chewing new grass, and wild plant blooms are appearing all over the place. Himalayan balsam is gearing-up to deny our native plants their fair share of sunlight and nutrients. I have great hopes of the cattle solving this problem before the tear is out. We have done our best to give them easy access to affected areas; success now depends on them finding balsam tastier than sweet new grass.
Evenings on the marsh are best at this time of year. The biting insects are not yet active, but they are in Hoo Wood. I feel excitement in the air. Unfortunately, two colds in a row have robbed me of my sense of smell; I am not able to smell spring, or foxes. I pass the north marsh vixen’s den regularly, during early and late evenings, and have caught sight of the dog fox doing his duty delivering takeaways to the vixen. I’m glad to report that the red dog is delivering proper wholesome food to his lady-love, and not burgers.
Late Tuesday evening I disturbed an otter mooching about in the shallow south end of the North Pond Chain. I could have kicked myself for my carelessness; it raced off through the fence and dived into the river. For all I know it was on its way to my living otter holt, but it might just as well have been returning from it; I will never know now. It’s about the right time for an otter bitch to be on the lookout for a decent holt. I’m trying my best to keep well away so as not to leave my scent anywhere near it. Any otter in the vicinity will easily pick up my scent around the pond, which won’t bother her unduly, but she is unlikely to take up residence if the holt is even faintly tinged with eau de Wilden Marsh Mike.
Some unthinking person has cut the northern corridor stock fence from top to bottom. Why would someone do this? A grudge action, perhaps, or is it that they just don’t have sufficient brain cells to appreciate the potential consequences of cattle roaming a busy road? A gap large enough to drive a horse and cart through has been cut in the main perimeter fence along Wilden Lane also. The culprit might be using the marsh as a shortcut to the canal towpath.
Come to think of it, I was told by a disgruntled “nature lover/birder” I came across on the marsh last year, with his unleashed pack of dogs racing about everywhere, that if a hole in the Wilden Lane perimeter fence was ever repaired, he would cut it again. So the birder might be responsible – he didn’t seem too smart to me.