Victor's Wildlife Report - July 2010

Guest Report by Alis McCabe

Well Spring has certainly sprung with Swallows performing their acrobatics over the lake with the Bats joining in at dusk. After much mating, both above and below the water, our fish and bird numbers have certainly increased. As per usual, many of the Coots have young families to care for and what attentive parents they are, constantly diving down to bring food for their chicks and keeping the other inhabitants of the lake away. Mallards and Swans are also being kept busy caring for their young, while the Herons have once again nested on the island. Crested Grebe have been seen fishing on the lake, but whether this will be the year that they successfully breed we will just have to wait and see.

The RSPCA have been kept busy collecting an injured Coot and the female Rouen/Mallard, unfortunately quite a few of the birds have suffered injuries from squabbling amongst themselves due to the breeding season – Coots have even been known to fight to the death. All injured birds are monitored by the Wardens and if necessary taken for treatment. Last Sunday I performed Cygnet Rescue after a member of the Public told me that one of the pair had something stuck in their mouth. Luckily I managed to grab the Cygnet, despite the 2 parents telling me off and after a bit of gentle pulling managed to remove fishing line with a weight attached to it. Unfortunately this is an ongoing problem we have when lines are snagged and sink to the bottom of the lake; presumably this was a case of weed wrapped around line being fed to the youngster. Hopefully the Cygnet will have not suffered any long lasting damage and will now grow into a most majestic bird. Earlier that day I had been involved in rescuing a Canada Goose that had become trapped in the Children’s play area – again this had been reported by a member of the Public, so it really is worth reporting to the Lakeside Centre (224 2902) if you see any bird in trouble.

Sadly the lake has blue green Algae again, although this year it is a new strain Anabaena flos aquae…well, we like to be different here at Platt Fields! Another first is that this year Manchester Leisure are operating a ‘traffic light system’ in order to allow activities on the water. So unless the Algae reaches extremely high levels the lake will remain open for Angling, Boating and Model Boats, but people will not be allowed in the water. So we are replant them after the majority of the plants were eaten, but the ECO Islands that went in last year are looking good and once again have provided nesting areas for the Coots.

As a result we now have a backyard full of buckets of flowering Flag Iris, various Grasses and paddling pools full of Water Lilies, all waiting to go in to the lake as soon as we get the go ahead. It was a pity that the Rose Garden and QE2 Fountain weren’t looking as colourful when we held our Strawberry Cream Tea event…..

For the first time this year our Ice Cream Van has begun selling bags of Duck Seed. Sale has been brisk, which shows how a little education goes a long way: bread is not good for the Ducks, it just fills them up without providing the required nutrition. Feed the birds at the side of the lake, rather than in the water and PLEASE do not feed the Canada Geese (large brown/black ones) - if they do come mobbing you for food, just stop feeding and shoo them away, it is far better for them to graze on grass.

Alis McCabe