Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Cormorant proposals - my comments

Thanks to those who sent me comments or responded directly to Canal & Rivers Trust about the recent proposals for reducing Cormorant predation of fish at Earlswood. I've just emailed the following to the fisheries manager.


Dear Carl,

I hope I'm not too late to comment on the Cormorant proposals at Earlswood Lakes. I am a birdwatcher who has been visiting Earlswood regularly for over 7 years. My comments are below in red:

Improvements to the existing floating islands on Engine pool. This included new coir mats and replanting of native plants on the island. An increase to the perimeter edge of the islands with coir rolls and new perimeter fencing around the island to protect the new plants while they establish as well as hindering the perching areas used by the cormorants. As well as fish refuges beneath islands suggested by Bob Roberts, maybe also plant more reeds in the water around the sides of the pool as additional fish refuge habitat.

The long thin island nearest to the Engine pool on Terry’s pool is noted as a roosting and feeding location for the cormorants. Remove all the wooden posts surrounding the island that are used by the cormorants to perch on. Coppice all the trees and the island to reduce potential perching locations but retain valuable habitat for nesting of local birds. Only the tree at the western end of the long island tends to be used by resting Cormorants, so only this would need coppicing. The wooden posts surrounding the island may be holding it together, so alternatively the posts could be used along with branches or some other material to retain soil added there and then planted with reeds, making it unsuitable for the Cormorants but providing some useful breeding habitat for other animal species. The lakes would benefit from having more reedbed habitat than they currently have.

Opening up of more areas around Terry’s pool by removing encroaching branches to allow for more visual appreciation of the pool as well as naturally disturbing cormorant resting and feeding due to more visual public presence. Terry's Pool is used as a refuge by many of the shyer waterbirds that visit the lakes, not to mention breeding species, due to its more sheltered situation and less disturbance. Opening up more areas around the pool is going to cause more disturbance to the birds seeking refuge there, making humans and dogs more visible to them, and allow strong winds to penetrate what is effectively a shelterbelt for the birds. It will remove cover possibly being used by fish as shelter, and remove bird nesting habitat. It will also encourage more illicit fishing there by providing more access points to the water's edge. 

Use of starting pistol by fishery bailiff and an angling representative to create loud bang and disturb roosting or feeding birds. Conditions and code of practice to be agreed on time of day, number of times fired and per day, other users to the site etc.  Use of a starting pistol is going to cause disturbance to non-target bird species, and whilst Paul Wilkinson assures me that any disturbance like this will not take place during the breeding season, birds visiting at other times of the year are going to be affected. It will also be a nuisance and potential hazard to other human users of the lakes and those residents living within hearing distance.

Kind regards,
Matt Griffiths

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