Amidst all of the doom and gloom it is refreshing to share some good news stories about UK wildlife that you may have missed over the last couple of days.
First of all it was fantastic to hear more news of the reintroduced Scottish Beavers. One of the three family units released earlier in the year (and previously reported on this site) has constructed a 5 x 2 x 7 metre lodge, hopefully a sign that they have settled into their new home. Although the reintroduction programme was the subject of intense lobbying by ecologists there is still some resistance to the idea from landowners and from some who think that the escalating price tag (currently at around £1.85 million) could be better spent elsewhere.
Also in the news today, a new survey organised by British Waterways has shown better than anticipated numbers of the under threat native Water Vole. Numbers of this little mammal (the basis of Ratty in Wind in the Willows) have dropped by an estimated 90% in 20 years, caused by pollution and attack from the non-native Mink. The survey asked people to submit sightings of any wildlife they saw along the network of canals and waterways. Use of the internet to submit sightings prompted a growth in responses from 6000 to 42000; this partly explains the higher numbers of water vole sightings (only 89, but how easy are they to spot?). Top of the list, as expected, was Mallard, followed by Canada Goose and Mute Swan.
The final story that caught my eye was the early arrival of a Bittern at the London Wetland Centre, the “early” possibly due to favourable winds helping it over from the continent. What impressed me had nothing to do with the timing of the arrival, but just the fact that there is the possibility of seeing (or at least hearing) one of these rare birds in London of all places. Surely this has to be good news for wildlife conservation, a bird as rare as a bittern in the UK, can overwinter close to the centre of London!