I love the spring with everything bursting into life. You can hear the change in the birds singing, woodpeckers drumming, catkins opening on the trees and flowers popping up. I've noticed a few clumps of snowdrops which I haven't seen before; perhaps squirrels are responsible for relocating these bulbs! Squirrels aren't the only animals that dig the ground. Badgers, Foxes, Rabbits and Moles all leave their mark. On top of that we have the deer scraping the ground during the rut and also when arguments break out they scuff the turf quite a lot. These two were disputing over the pecking order for food, but while they were using up their energy the other deer around them were getting a bigger share of the food.

I mentioned the Otters in my last edition and that it would be interesting to see if the visits taper off, but they are still visiting. One particular otter rested under the bridge for almost an hour. After studying the photos it appears that otters fidget a lot. I have selected a few so that you can see what I mean; perhaps otters just rest more than they sleep. We are taking part in the Lee Valley Otter camera survey which is to try and understand better how otters use the Lee Valley. I'm hoping for some good results to pass on to them.

Our new Tawny owl box has finally gone up on a tree. Two volunteers did a great job ofinstalling it and now it's just a waiting game to see whether it gets used. Here's an older photo of a Tawny owl at the Mills caught in the headlights which it didn't seem to mind as it sat there for a few minutes. I have also been looking out for a Red Kite nest and I might possibly have found it. If I am correct I will monitor it for nesting activity and then let the experts at Lee Valley know about it if it's active.

I recently mentioned not seeing many foxes which is a bit unusual at the Mills, but since mentioning it I've been spoilt for choice... foxes everywhere I go. I watched one particularly bold fox not bothered that I was watching it close by. It pounced on a pile of dead leaves and caught what looked like a mouse. Foxes have excellent hearing and can apparently hear a watch ticking from 36 metres away. This fox in the photo was having a cosy rest in the deer haylage.

We have recently had the female deer (Doe) joining the males on the Mead. I think they have caught on to my feeding patterns although I do put feed out at both ends ofthe site. Here's a pair enjoying a nibble on the food. A few of last year's fawns also come to the Mead with their mums. The Does are much more nervous than the males as they have less interaction with people, but it's still nice to see them when they turn up.
Well that's all for now.

Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist