What great time of year the Spring is for wildlife at the Mills. Some of my focus on wildlife has been around the southern end of the site where it's most active with people, events and numerous activities. This doesn't seem to deter the wildlife too much. We have a new pair of swans that nested in the usual place which makes me wonder how many different pairs have used the nest over the years. The new pair only had two cygnets, but it's so nice to have some cygnets back after a few barren years. On their first journey out mum seemed to get herself a bit muddy, perhaps took a bath in too shallow water, but it didn't stop a cygnet wanting a ride.

Grey Wagtails are on the red list which shows increasing concern for breeding numbers and loss of habitat. I have spotted a few Grey Wagtails on site and I'm hoping this means that they have been breeding. They flit up and down the canals, open waters and run along the rooftops of our buildings.

I watched this one running along the road catching insects.

The deer have been a bit quiet lately, only allowing a few glimpses here and there. They have just cast their antlers and new ones are growing fast. This is the time for the Does to have their fawns and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a photo opportunity in the weeks to come.

We will soon be having our Barn Owl box checked for eggs or chicks. Fingers crossed that it will be successful again. Any chicks in there will be ringed. Our latest addition to nesting birds on site is a pair of Red Kites. They nest high in the treetop and are spending a lot of time doing aerial battle with the crows which constantly mob them every time they fly to and from the nest. The nest is being checked soon and any chicks will be tagged by professionals from Lee Valley. I managed to get a few photos, here's one sitting on a tree after being mobbed by the crows.

I seem to be going with a bird theme this time as there is so much bird activity going on around me. We've had Great Spotted Woodpeckers nesting in a tree behind the Saltpetre and the constant calling of the chick gave the location away. As it got bigger you could see it popping its head out of the tree waiting for more food.

I'm sure there are still lots to come; I’m waiting to see ifOrchids appear again this year in the car park and I'm still hoping for a daylight photo of an Otter which is still visiting.

Our resident Robins have had two broods and hopefully they will match last year and have a third. I'm looking forward to reporting more next time which will hopefully include a positive update on our Barn Owls and Red Kites.

Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist