Last night, I popped up to the lake I mentioned in the previous post in the hope of spotting and photographing the Barn Owl again. The owl was there, but I only got a brief view and no pictures. It’s a great place, though. There was a Green Woodpecker, a flock of geese on the stubble in the field, and a number of Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer around the field edges. I should definitely come here more often.
At the lake I came across evidence of a new species for the area – new to me, anyway. Other people have probably known about it for ages. On the grass by the bank of the lake was the shell of a crustacean of some sort. It had obviously been there a while, presumably caught and eaten by a heron or other predator. I’m not an expert, not a crustaceanist, but I assume it is a Signal Crayfish. Either that or someone’s been dropping scampi. We’re far too far away from the sea for any marine species, and from what I know of our native crayfish they like to live in clear running streams, not muddy old estate lakes.
The Signal Crayfish are spreading quickly across the UK, but it’s still a bit of a mystery how it got here. This lake is pretty isolated. It isn’t connected to any significant watercourses other than a very small stream, too small to have much an ecosystem. No-one even goes fishing here (which is a shame). Perhaps the crayfish arrived as eggs on the legs of waterfowl (the often-used explanation for fish spreading to new lakes)? Perhaps someone with a taste for crayfish tail and rocket sandwiches put them in? Who knows?
If anyone is a crayfish expert, feel free to shed some light. Otherwise I’ll just file this away as one more species for the area.