This time last year the pond was newly dug and freshly planted up. Nevertheless, we did transfer a bit of frog spawn into it from our garden pond in the hope that there would be sufficient nutritious stuff around to raise some baby amphibians.
During the Spring we very occasionally got sight of a tadpole and then, later, a little tadpole growing legs but never saw anything emerging from the water and so presumed that our attempt to colonise the pond had not been successful.
So we were delighted when this happened this week:
Several frogs must have made it through childhood and returned to spawn the next generation. Exciting pond news indeed, you must agree.
Ps my writing above is not lacking enthusiasm but it seems that it is somewhat lacking in the facts department. We have been doing a bit of reading up on frogs today and apparently frogs take two to three years until they are mature enough to mate and produce spawn. Therefore, this lovely spawn that has arrived must be from already grown frogs that have happened by chance upon the pond and thought it a nice place to raise some children.
Last night we went to an illustrated talk on Rare Moths of Kent by Tony Davis who works for the Butterfly Conservancy charity.
He took us through 51 different moths, some of which are thought to now be extinct in Kent but others that are just about hanging on by their finger tips. What seemed to be a recurring feature though is that, in the world of moths, there is often a sparsity of information leading to a potential for great surprises. They are generally difficult to survey, especially if they don’t come to light and so aren’t caught in traps, and it seems to be often a question of grubbing about in the undergrowth looking for caterpillars, or excavating a leaf mine and taking the resulting larva back home to see what hatches out. I was really surprised at how little seems to be known about some of these species.
All 51 moths are on the Biodiversity Action Plan as species that need conservation and greater protection.
Two moths in particular caught our attention because, whilst very scarce, are known to have colonies on the shingle beach below our meadows and so potentially may turn up in our moth trap this year, you never know.
The Sussex Emerald moth has a colony at Dungeness and one on Kingsdown Beach below the meadows and nowhere else in the UK.
The Bright Wave is found on the stretch of coast from Ramsgate down to Kingsdown only:
We heard last night about Moth Twitchers who are prepared to travel the length of the country to tick moths off. I will certainly never be a twitcher but I am very much enjoying discovering more about a vast group of animals that I previously knew absolutely nothing about.
In the past couple of weeks I have discovered a lot about mange. I now know, for instance, that it is not the mange itself that kills the foxes, but mange causes their skin to dry and crack and they succumb to secondary infections which kill them.
I initially contacted the National Fox Welfare Society but I didn’t seem to have much luck with them and so I phoned The Fox Project who were extremely helpful and informative. It seems that there is some strong and effective medicine but this needs to be administered under control and is used in extreme cases where over 40% of the fur has been lost. In these circumstances, the fox needs to be caught in a cage trap and brought in to be treated.
In less severe infestations, there is a homeopathic medicine that is said to be extremely effective, although it needs to be given daily for at least three weeks and up to six in some cases. It has the slightly alarming name of Arsenicum and Sulphur:
This liquid is to be dropped onto jam sandwiches and left out for the foxes. The advice given tells us to disperse the sandwiches around a bit making it slightly less likely that one fox will wolf down the lot, although, should this happen, it is not possible to overdose on this stuff. Nor would it harm anything else that ate the sandwiches.
Last night the trap camera caught two foxes eating the sandwiches, one of which appears to have mange, although its not a very good image. But there is definitely something very wrong with its tail.
We have been putting out sandwiches now for a week and monitoring the scene with the trap camera. Unfortunately I don’t think we have yet seen this fox shown below eating them who we recently got a photo of which started this whole thing off:
Here in East Kent, we are outside the catchment area of the Fox Project and so I was given the number of our local wildlife centre – Fur and Feathers Wildlife Trust near Folkestone. This seems to be run primarily by one heroic lady who cares sufficiently about the plight of our injured or orphaned wildlife to dedicate her life to doing something about it. It is very good to know that, should we find a fox that is very severely affected, she will come and trap it and take it away for treatment. I have now found another very worthy cause to support.