Wildlife at the Watermill

Wildlife at the Watermill

Cameron Watson and Sandy Jackson, both also Suffolk Wildlife Volunteers,  look after the wildlife area at the mill and go down every Thursday morning and do something constructive for the wildlife which includes topping up the feeders and checking on the slow worms etc. In the last few months, we have had a new helper – Ann Walter who lives in Ixworth.  At the beginning of a New Year we usually write up a report re the wildlife to present to the committee and volunteers at the AGM in February.  Here is our report presented in January 2013  for the previous year – 2012.

The grounds and surrounding area of the mill afford us with a large area for wildlife and we have seen both the designated area and the rest of the grounds continue to flourish in 2012.

Designated Area.

This area used to be known as the old Picnic Area and several of the volunteers that are interested in the wildlife have managed it to encourage wildlife for about three years now and it is continuing to do well and more species both in flora and fauna have been detected. The bird feeders are topped up almost every week and the usual garden birds like tits, robins, blackbirds etc are regular visitors. The bat boxes were checked but have not been occupied except for two which contained the bedding of a small bird, perhaps a long-tailed tit, a wren or a goldcrest. Brown Long Eared Bats are still present at the top of the mill and the open barn provides a haven for at two further species, including Pipistrelle and Noctule.

The most exciting discovery was that we now have a family of slow worms!  We had put down small corrugated metal sheeting in several parts of the area about two or three years ago and this year we were thrilled to find a couple of slow worms under one of the sheets.  We have been checking carefully almost every week throughout the spring and summer months and eventually there were two large ones and two smaller ones all present at the same time, plus the odd small toad and field vole.  It just goes to show that if you create the right habitat and conditions, the wildlife will eventually move in and raise a family!

The path round the area has been regularly maintained. Due to the amount of rainfall we had to cut the grass earlier than usual to allow low growing plants to develop. We are hoping to have a survey carried out in 2013 to see what species (flora and fauna) we can find in the small chalk stream running alongside the wildlife area.

Rest of the Grounds

The resident pair of swans produced their usual brood with about five young and always a delightful sight  over the Spring and Summer months. Less common sightings were Heron, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Greylag Geese and Dabchick. The usual bird boxes have been occupied by blue or great tits. A tit nest box was erected with a camera inside at the rear of the mill building in early Spring but unfortunately it did not get taken up. We may leave it another season in case they do decide to nest in 2013, fingers crossed as it will be very interesting and exciting to watch for our visitors and volunteers alike. The bird boxes we placed around the mill grounds were checked and we found only one or two that had bedding in this year but there was a great tit nesting along the inside wall of the barn (used to storage) which was coming in and out through a gap in the window to feed it’s young. There was also a blue tit which found a small hole next to the door of the barn which also raised a family. The box at the top of the mill was occupied by jackdaws this year which made a nice change from the usual stock doves. Four Buckthorn bushes have been planted in the grounds to encourage the Brimstone butterfly.

We are looking forward to 2013 and another exciting year for our wildlife. It is hoped that several of the volunteers will again help us in the wildlife area as it is so rewarding. The mill is a haven for wildlife and we should do all we can to encourage it and let it flourish. If anyone has any reference or identification books they no longer require, we would be grateful if you could donate them to the mill.

Cameron, Sandy and Ann

If anyone living locally would like to come and help us in the wildlife area on a Thursday morning, please contact me – Sandy Jackson: PakenhamSandy@aol.com