The Fauna of Wilden Marsh
I have not gone into any great detail in this blog, about the variety of Wilden Marsh fauna; so, whilst relaxing in the midday heat of a bar at the port of Paphos, with a few pints of beer to sustain me, I will attempt correct my oversight.
One of the main considerations leading to Wilden Marsh being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is the nationally important populations of resident and migratory bird species it supports. The total number of bird species recorded on the SSSI is greater than 200, of which about 50-60 breed annually. The uncommon and notable birds regularly visiting or breeding within the northern section of the Marsh include: lesser spotted woodpecker (Picoides minor), grasshopper warbler (Locustella naevia), reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), willow tit (Parus montanus), marsh tit (Parus palustris), woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), skylark (Alauda arvensis), cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), water rail (Rallus aquaticus) and barn owl (Tyto alba). Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava) and sand martin (Riparia riparia) are also known to occur along the watercourses. There are many historical records of several other notable and uncommon species which may still occasionally be found on this part of the Marsh, particularly if they are regular visitors to the southern half. Many of these records are of waders and waterfowl from a time when the settling pools in the former lagoons supported large areas of standing water. However, snipe (Gallinago gallinago), curlew (Numenius arquata), lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) and common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) have been recently recorded in the lagoons over winter and spring periods. Half a dozen great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), known as the great black cormorant across the Northern Hemisphere, overwinter here on the marsh. There is a 16+ bird heronry on the island, hidden within mature grey willow scrub overlooking an open area of swamp and marshy grassland. The reserve is important for a number of reptiles and amphibians with grass snake (Natrix natrix), common lizard (Lacerta vivipara), great crested newt (Triturus cristatus),smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris), common toad (Bufo bufo) and common frog (Rana temporaria) having been recorded in this part of Wilden Marsh. Great crested newts are known to breed in various ponds and ditches across the northern end of the SSSI.
Some of the mammals recorded include otter (Lutra lutra), stoat (Mustela ermine), American mink (Mustela vison), hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), field vole (Microtus agrestis), common shrew (Sorex araneus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi), bats (various species), and badgers (Meles meles), the latter living sett within the northern part of the Marsh and along Stour Hill. As with many watercourses, there are also historical records of water vole (Arvicola amphibious). The last time I saw a water vole on the marsh was along a water ditch feeding the south pool. I noticed grass stems chewed in the characteristic V shape, and mounds of fresh bullet shaped droppings. Eventually, after many visits, I saw a water vole swimming in this section of the drainage ditch with a grass stem in it’s mouth. Water shrew (Neomys fodiens) is known to occur at the southern end of the Marsh but as yet has not been recorded from the northern part.
The varied habitats on Wilden Marsh support a large number and diversity of invertebrates including over 200 species of beetle, 23 species of butterfly, 19 species of spider, 14 species of dragonfly and damselfly and several species of moth, bee, ant, bug and fly. Notable of these include the diving beetle (Hydaticus seminiger) which has become rare in the midlands, (Carabus granulatus), Dytiscus circumflexus and the longhorn beetle (Pyrrhidium sanguineum). More common species include cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) – a National BAP species, small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), purple hairstreak (Quercusia quercus), holly blue (Celastrina argiolus subsp. Britanna), small copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and marbled white (Melanargia galathea subsp. serena) butterflies. It should also be noted that Bombus humilus, a National BAP species, has been recorded at the southern end of Wilden Marsh and so may occur on the northern part of the site also.