Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve and SSSI is again under threat from developers. At the southern end of the Reserve, close to Wilden Village, permission was granted a few years ago to use a small area immediately adjacent to the SSSI as a scrapyard, and to facilitate this decision the SSSI status of the marsh entrance section was removed. Wilden Marsh is not an entity existing on its own, it is fed from outside by the River Stour, Hoo Brook and the surrounding green areas that provide a steady supply of the insects sucked into the valley by its rising thermals; it is part of a vibrant wildlife corridor. Removing its surrounding green areas will, in effect, throttle the marsh to the point where it will not thrive. Insects, birds, polecats, badgers, foxes, stoats and weasels move down from the sloping sides of the Lower Stour Valley to forage, feed and generally live their lives on the marsh and Lagoon Field.
This is Cullum the badger foraging in the Lagoon Field.
Polecat at the north end of the Lagoon Field[/caption]
As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are thousands of toads and frogs living in the Lagoon Field. The toads leave the Lagoon Field every year around 9th March; they walk across the Northern Corridor to mate in North Pond at the southern end of the Swamp. The Northern Corridor and North Pond Pasture are covered with them – I have to be very careful where I place my feet to avoid squashing them. After a couple of weeks of vigorous mating, they return to the Lagoon Field for rest and recuperation until the same time next year.
The toads are a food source for heron and otters, I guess mink take advantage of the glut too. The herons snip off the toads’ heads with their beaks, and turn them inside out to eat: the toad’s skin tastes horrible. Otters launch themselves into North Pond after dark, making tremendous splashes: they grab a toad and leave the pond to eat it.
The Lagoon Field is a productive hunting ground for buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks, and even an occasional Harris hawk. Buzzards are often seen circling on thermals above the Lagoon Field.
The middle lagoon is boggy with a few pools full of willow scrub surrounded by tall thick grass, reeds, sedges, brambles, etc. The southern lagoon is now a flooded wood, albeit packed full with tall, spindly willow, birch and alder trees. Many scary noises float from there on moonlit nights: growls, grunts, shrieks and screams, as well as bird and animal calls I recognise. I’ve heard all manner of ducks arguing and squabbling in the south lagoon wood; woodcock and snipe hide there and I hear the occasional curlew, redshank and various owls. Foxes, badgers and otters hunt in there. Muntjac deer lie up in the long grass both sides of the wood.
I could drone on and on about many more positive nature benefits of the Lagoon Field, but I think I will end this post here. The Lagoon Field hasn’t any negative aspects as far as I’m concerned.
READ ABOUT THE PROPOSAL TO BUILD INDUSRIAL AND RESIDENTIAL HOUSING ON THE LAGOON FIELD: HERE
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