Back in July 2021 I was contacted by Matthew Plummer, who was referred to me by a landowner with a smart raft on their land. Matthew told me about a mink that had raided their pond earlier in the year although luckily they managed to trap it. His pond is surrounded by an electric fence to protect the wildlife, however he was very keen to have a smart raft on one of the ditches outside the fence in case a mink tried to return.
It didn’t take long for the smart raft to catch a mink, a female, which entered the trap when Matthew was actually on site feeding the ducks. Another has been seen on a trail camera but unfortunately it has not been caught, but it might have moved on since it has not been back.
I run a trail camera on the mink raft, and when I was there to change the SD card I asked Matthew if they have any kingfishers visit the pond. As he had a pair visit fairly regularly. I asked if he had ever thought about making an artificial kingfisher bank to see if they would nest. As it would be inside an electric fence they would be very safe. With that the seed was sown and Matthew was very keen to get a project underway.
I offered to make a mould and build the tunnel and nesting chambers, so I set about designing it in my spare time. However, at the last minute things didn’t go as I planned… I tried to mix peat with the concrete mix but unknown to me peat neutralises the cement, making the mix basically useless. In a rush and with the help of Matthew’s local tradesman, who built the frame for the bank, we manage to get it recast and set within 24hrs. The frame for the nesting chambers was maybe slightly larger than Matthew and I thought it would be, however once it was set into the edge of the pond it looked much better and hopefully the kingfishers will take to it soon.
Matthew wrote a letter to Simon Baker to thank the project and me for the help over the last year, a snippet of the letter follows:
I would like to say a huge thank you to Stephen Mace who has helped us with our private wildlife pond that we built about four years ago.
The Waveney Valley has had the duck numbers heavily reduced so last year we decided to electric fence off the pond as the mink were slaughtering the ducklings. This summer we had 104 wild Mallard get to adulthood. Only one batch of 6 hatched outside the wire. Since Stephen has removed the mink two lots have hatched outside the fence in early November and out of 22 ducklings 15 got to adulthood. Of course we did let them inside the fence and fed them to help them survive. We had tried to get the mink but with no success. Our method was more of a random pot shot and hope etc.
This year’s project is to increase the kingfisher numbers; we do have a resident pair. So this week the very large job of building a kingfisher wall home began. We couldn’t buy the housing as the company had ceased trading so Stephen made the mould from scratch, so the build could continue as he takes his recovery part seriously.