Page 1

ORCHIDS

257

The Fragrant Orchis (Gymnadenia conopsea, L.) (Habenaria Benth.) has been recorded by Mr. Bendix at Coddenham. This is the sole record of it in Suffolk, though Hind said in 1889 " occurs in all districts ". The Lizard Orchis (Himantoglossum hircinum L.), was seen by Miss E. Rowling at Tattingstone in 1932. This record was shied at by our referees as the mere memory of an old lady. But A. L. Bull found it there in 1959, but later reported that it had become extinct. Hind described it as " very rare " and gave only one site for it—Great Glemham by Rev. E. N. Bloomfield. Note. This old lady like other good botanists never forgot where she had seen a rare thing. She said she had seen Inula helenium at Bacton long ago. This too was discounted until Mr. W. E. H. Fiddian of B.S.B.I. found it there in recent years. But we cannot now get confirmation for her Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides L.), in a pond near Westerfeld Road, Ipswich, for the Valley Road now runs over the site. FOOTNOTE

M r . R a n s o m e has j u s t f o u n d (June, 1963) in this wet m e a d o w the t h i r d parent species, D. praetermissa, which we t h o u g h t we saw b u t could not reach last year. I sent a specimen to D r . Perring at C a m b r i d g e and h e confirms t h e n a m e . T h i s , it seems, would complete t h e population, for a hybrid fuchsii X ericetorum would be difficult to distinguish f r o m either parent.

COYPU (MYOCASTOR COYPUS) AT MINSMERE DĂœRING THE FROST OF JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, 1963 by H . E . AXELL

coastal reserve was less affected by the severe weather than were areas inland. Snow was never more than one to two inches deep on the marsh and the largest mere retained some small part of open water throughout the period. Nearly 400 acres of dense THIS


258

COYPU AT MINSMERE

reeds, which are not cut for sale, included large sections on dry land with thick floor debris. Good shelter was also provided by the many bramble and gorse bushes and it was evident that this cover was much more used than in periods of less severe weather. In January, one tunnel was dug in a bank of loose earth and two rabbit burrows were used. Parts of some ditches remained icefree and roots of some marsh plants and grasses were available in fair quantity. That coypus at Minsmere were at least able to maintain their body weight is indicated in the table below. The larger sample in January was possible through the activities of Messrs. T . Forrest and G. Bloomfield of the M.A.F.F. Coypu Campaign, who had a final total of over 400 traps set throughout the marsh and accounted for some 140 animals on the Reserve. Compared with nearby marshes, where no persistent control measures had yet been taken, the Minsmere population had been kept at a low density (vide Trans. S u f f . Nat. Soc., XII, pt. III, 177-183) and probably no more than 200 coypus were present in the reed-beds when the frost began on 23rd December, 1962. Trapping was continued on the Reserve throughout February. Eleven were caught up to 8th and thereafter no sign of a live animal was found in the reed-beds. DĂźring this month, however, other trappers operating for the Ministry in nearby grazing land were taking one or two occasionally by the ditches. These coypus showed considerably more frost-bite than those which had been trapped in the marsh. In the reed and scrub cover, only seven animals were found dead during the two months and severe frostbite with swelling and cracks in the feet and toes, was found in five. Less severe frost-bite was found in a few others and four had tails slightly affected with rotting skin and loss of hair. The only pup seen was one, between one and two months old, trapped in the fields south of the reed-beds. Most of its tail was severely frost-bitten. Lethargy was noticeable in some animals soon after the onset of the frost and became progressively more obvious ; towards the end of January, large coypus were being caught quite easily by a dog. Mr. C. S. Mead, Controlling the Ministry's coypu campaign, informed me that the animals caught in the Minsmere reed-beds were in better condition than those from any other East Anglian colony. At the Coypu Laboratory, Norwich, Dr. R. M. Newson found only slight frost-bite on some samples from Minsmere whilst severe damage (cracks and extensive raw areas on the soles of the feet, and tails often dead and shrivelled) was common in coypus from the more exposed areas of Norfolk. The Minsmere coypus, however, showed no tendency to be heavier.


259

COYPU AT MINSMERE COMPARISON

IN

WEIGHTS

OF

COYPUS

TRAPPED

AT

MLNSMERE

IN MILD WEATHER AND IN PROLONGED, SEVERE FROST.

October,

Body length (inches)

14 15 15* 16 17 20 20i

21 24

igĂ–2

Weight (Ibs.) av.

max.

min.

21

21

2i

4

3

U H

January,

No. in sample

2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1

4* 5 14 11* 11 121

Weight (Ibs.) av.

4* H

4* 6 5i

12

m

13 17

max.

min.

5 5* 6 9i 8 14 13 15

4 2f 3 44 4 10 10 11

ic 63 No. in sample

3 4 5 12 9 12 7 15 1

Only a small sample of comparable body-lengths was available from those trapped in October. $ $ in advanced pregnancy have been omitted.

THE GREAT FREEZE by

G.

E.

CURTIS

THE winter of 1962-63 was one of the most severe in living memory and therefore might be considered to be worthy of record in our Transactions. The figures from which the following temperature graphs were made were kindly supplied by Lord Stradbroke and were recorded at the Henham Estate, Wangford, Beccles. Maximum temperature was taken at 6.0 p.m. and minimum at 7.00 a.m. each day and represents the highest and lowest temperature reached for the previous twenty-four hours. The thermometer was not screened and was suspended about four foot from the ground on a north-facing wall. The recording Station stands about fifty foot above sea level.

Coypu (Myocastor coypus) at Minsmere during the Frost of January and February, 1963  
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