Common Seal off East India Dock Basin, March 2011
I finally caught up with the Water Rail in the western reedbed at the basin today, apart from that and the first singing Chiffchaff of the year not much was happening on the bird front so a Common Seal in the Thames off the basin was a very welcome diversion, it was seen to catch and eat two flatfish, probably Dabs and had Gary and me comparing our Lower Lea mammal lists. Gary had a Stoat at the basin several years ago when there was a lot more habitat available before the construction spate of the last decade and I've had a species of Pipistrelle, probably Common, apart from that we've both seen the following: Red Fox, Bottle-nosed Dolphin, Grey Squirrel and Brown Rat; the 2006 Northern Bottle-nosed Whale seen as far upstream as Battersea would have made it onto the list had somebody been on hand to see it and there must be various shrews, mice and possibly Bank Vole and Hedgehog present and historically Black Rat and Rabbit must have been recorded, the latter is fairly common a mile to the east at the Royal Docks. Lea Valley Regional Park have somewhat optimistically installed an otter holt in the ecology park but the sobering news that the Lower Lea is the most polluted river in Britain means we might have a bit of a wait until it receives its first tenants. Gary also remembers American Mink being seen with some regularity on the Lea around Middlesex Filter Beds a few years ago but that's one mammal tick I can live without.