Last week was my final week at Titchfield Haven, meaning that my work experience with the Hampshire County Council was coming to an end. It was, however, another interesting week and I was able to get involved in a variety of activities. The week started with going around the reserve and checking Mink and Water Vole rafts. Around 1,000 Water Voles were released into the Meon Valley between 2013 and 2014 after Mink were eradicated from the area. It seems to have been successful, with Water Voles being seen regularly around the reserve, particularly at the Walkway Pond.
Although Mink have been eradicated from the area, Mink rafts are used to check for the presence of them as there is always a chance of Mink returning (until that day when there are none once again in the UK!). The raft is a tunnel with a slot for placing a tray containing a mixture of clay and sand that would detect the footprint of any species that walk through it, and is a proven way of monitoring Mink. These rafts are checked weekly, and if Mink are present, a trap can be set and placed on the raft to try to catch it. Once traps have been set, if or when they’re needed, the rafts are checked daily.
You might be wondering why it is necessary to eradicate Mink. They’re a none native species, originating from America, that were released into the UK. As a predator of many species, including Water Voles, they caused devastation by contributing to a worrying decline in Water Voles so it was decided that trying to eradicate them was needed to allow Water Voles (and other species) to recover. One of the many dangers of releasing non native species into a country is the unintended and regrettable consequences that result.
It was interesting checking both rafts especially as they showed plenty of signs that Otters have retuned to the area. This is fantastic news! Perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to see one in the flesh at Titchfield.
The next day was the first of three volunteer work party days so we returned to Upper Haven and continued with putting up the new fence. We made good progress, and it wasn’t long before we finished another section. (It has now been finished, so cows will be grazing the land soon!)
On Wednesday I had a day in the office where I was given a chance to play around with Living Record. It’s a website for recording sightings of plants and animals so could prove very useful for organisations, especially as you can have very accurate locations – great for pinpointing where rarer species breed for example. You can also set different levels of privacy, so some sighting (like what birds can be seen from each hide) might be public, whereas other sighting can be private so only staff can see them.
The following day I was outside again, helping Kieran and Karima. There were some trees that needed chopping down so 2 of us stopped the traffic while the trees were removed. I must say, I certainly didn’t expect to have a go at controlling the traffic during my work experience!
My final day was similar to other Fridays – a high tide count followed by time in the office. The high tide was early this time, so I was able to count the birds before the tractor arrived for maintenance on the Scrapes. It was relatively quiet, but that could be due to the fact that I started before high tide. There was, however, a Little Ringed Plover on the South Scrape, as well as the usual Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and more.
Apologies for the lateness of the final update and the lack of photos – my laptop broke so had to go in for repairs, meaning I have been without my photos (and a computer) for a few weeks!