334/365 – Meet Ropeneck

In 2000 a female grey seal came ashore at Donna Nook to give birth to her pup but she had a problem. Wrapped tightly around her neck was some rope from discarded fishing gear which was cutting deeply into her skin. The volunteers quickly spotted her and with the help of some RAF staff they caught her and removed the rope. They named her Ropeneck and she quickly became the most celebrated seal at the colony.

Ropeneck

Ropeneck

She has returned to the exact spot every year since to have her pup, the scar from the rope still clearly visible around her neck. She returns around the 10th of November and gives birth around the 15th every year!

Ropeneck and pup

Ropeneck and pup

When I visited last week she was snoozing with her latest pup on the beach. She has only missed one year since she was first spotted so this is her 17th pup. She may well have arrived for a few years before her arrival with the rope made her stand out. Her pup was one of 943 new arrival when I visited, this week he is one of 1611!!

Ropenecks 2018 pup.

Ropenecks 2018 pup.

330/365 – An Unwanted Guest

This morning I came across an unwanted guest on my local nature reserve.

The American Mink as its name suggests isn’t a native UK mammal but is here as a result of the fur farming industry and a population originally made up of escapees and intentional releases from these farms. This population seems to have been well established before the mass releases by animal activists during the 1990’s but this wouldn’t have helped.

Mink farms had been established in the 1920’s with up to 400 known to be breeding animals for the trade. The mink were first confirmed to be breeding in the wild back in 1956 and by 1967 were present in around half the counties of England and Wales. The industry had been controlled by Government action since the 70’s and it was the few remaining farms in the 90’s which came under attack by animal activist in well publicised raids.

Wild mink

Wild mink

The Mink is a small, lithe mammal, with brown-black fur, a narrow snout, a small, white chin and a white throat. They are smaller than otters and with darker fur and a smaller face. They are voracious predators feeding on anything it is big enough to catch, including ground-nesting birds water voles, which in some areas have been wiped out.

American mink

This mink was busy catching small fish in a pond which was part of the old canal. It would dive under the water it’s progress followed by the emerging bubbles before it would surface with its catch and run up one of the fallen branches to eat its snack. they are excellent swimmers aided by their semi-webbed feet. At the end of the day it’s not their fault they are here, a combination of a poorly secured business, mismanagement and some dubious animal activism all contributed to it establishing a place in the wild. All this mink was doing today was going about its daily life.

Minking licking its lips