REFLECTIONS  and some old news

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OLD NEWS. We shall be putting old news items here for the time being.



Red kites breed again in Monks Wood

Red kites were common in and around Monks Wood in the early part of the nineteenth century but were wiped out by persecution in 1844. However, they have become increasingly numerous in recent years following widespread introductions in the 1990s. Breeding was confirmed in Monks Wood in 2009. A nest was found by chance in one of the woodland blocks and two young were raised.
Arnie Cooke
August 2009


Incidental observations

The chance finding of a kite nest in 2009 made me think of other incidental observations made while recording deer and deer signs in Monks Wood. Like many other people, I tend to be fairly blinkered when in the field and something that is not a deer has to be loud, obvious or in the way in order to be noticed. I found the kite nest because of the abundant droppings on the ground where I was counting deer dung. Similarly I stumbled on a young dead buzzard when scoring deer signs in 2006 – as with the kites, this was probably the first breeding record for more than a century and a half. Counting dung also flushed a woodcock from its clutch of eggs in 1993, and I am fairly sure a purple emperor flew by me the same year.

There have been a few unusual incidents with people. In the early 1990s I badly startled a shooter lying outside the northern edge of the wood and looking out over the farmland - and since then I have made sure people have seen me. In the north east corner, I came across a couple who had, to judge from their two cars, chosen to meet and pass some time in the Wood! Unfortunately their bored dog decided to adopt me and tagged along on my surveillance walk. Visitors often ask me how they can get back to their cars. One such lady was the niece of Mr Neaverson, who owned Monks Wood between 1943 and 1953. She remembered camping in the Wood during that period but had rarely been back since.

One of the unluckiest animals I came across was a toad that I stood on in the middle of a woodland block. It survived the ordeal remarkably well, probably because I was wearing wellies rather than hard-soled boots. I was also wearing wellies when I stood on a wasp’s nest during one of the many wet days this summer. They quickly went from being dormant to angry, but probably thanks to the wellies I got away with a single sting. 2009 has been a good year for incidental sightings with two red deer stags in April (hard to miss) and a musk beetle on browsed coppice regrowth in August.

I am still looking out for my first big cat. Apart from several moggies, the best I have managed was a buck Chinese water deer on the road verge by Bevill’s Wood one morning in 1976. Because of its tusks and the height of the vegetation, a passing motorist subsequently reported it to the police as a lion. They sent out a marksman but it was hit and killed by a car later that day.