The gulls are back in town!

Water levels are noticeably increasing after recent rainfall. There may be some seepage apparent from the wet shadows on the dip slopes, but generally the vegetation which established last year, is now submerged.

Gradually the plants will die and nutrients will affect the water quality with a knock-on effect on the species of invertebrate, which  will live within the water column. Nevertheless, food resources, drinking and bathing water and a safe night roost will all be available once the water levels rise.

The main thing is that all the ducks, gulls and other water birds associated with the filter beds are returning. Nationally, black-headed gull numbers have declined substantially and they are more likely to be seen at inland places such as the Filter Beds than at the coast. This is due to habitat changes and loss of food resources. In their Environmental Statement the developers stated that the gulls and other birds noted on the site's SNCI citation (Site of Nature Conservation Importance, Borough Grade 1)  no longer existed, but they didn't state that this was because they had reduced the site to a muddy puddle after two episodes of draining during 2011.

The gulls have joined the 37 lapwings, fluctuating numbers of gadwall, 12 tufties, moorhen and coot. No sign yet of the little grebes which once bred here in excellent numbers. Fingers crossed there is plenty of time before they start breeding. 

Whilst watching the site this morning, passers-by said they had seen waxwings over breakfast from their apartment along the Portsmouth Road. Knowing there is a large cotoneaster bush (marking the portal of the Lambeth tunnel) I wandered to the borough boundary to see if the birds might be there. The berries had all blackened and shrivelled uneaten, but the bird cherry behind had blossomed, marking the beginning of another, lets hope, more peaceful, year.

If you have any wildlife observations of the Filter Beds the please share them here.


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