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BARBICAN LIFE


ducks, Egyptian geese, an American wood duck (or it may have been a Mandarin) and undoubtedly others. The mallards are the ones which breed here – often in residents’ balcony window boxes which does create a problem when it’s time for the progeny to venture forth into the dangers of the lake and the various predators which fancy duckling as a tasty treat. As noted above the mortality rate seems to be enormous these days although hopefully the reed beds which are now a part of the lake environment may provide some shelter. We do also have one or two moorhens and coots, which tend to be cleverer than the ducks and do make better use of the reeds as shelter.


Seagulls are not the only seabirds which come here – recently a cormorant has been spotted looking for lunch, but the most spectacular fishing bird is of course the heron which makes the occasional foray here and graces the front cover of this issue. The heron is a truly spectacular bird and tends to create particular interest among watchers by the lakeside. It is thought the one which comes to the Barbican may fly


over from Regents Park – I have a number of photographs of it on the waterfall, but it also sometimes is seen on the small stretch of Lake behind St Giles and near Mountjoy House and the Roman wall. We used to be plagued with Canada Geese every summer. Although a handsome bird, they are strong, messy and can be aggressive, particularly when they have young. They seem to have been


discouraged, but if they return some time it is best not to feed them as that encourages them to come back year-on-year. They also had been accused of killing ducklings, but this may have just been due to dislike of the species. Always blame the unpopular ones! They are actually largely herbivores eating grass but have been also known to eat small in sects and small fish. Actually Canada Geese are pretty moral birds by human standards. They are monogamous, mating for life and both the male and female help protect the nest while the eggs are incubating.


Fish


One of the attractions for birds like the heron or the cormorant are the


introduced to control the midges. In that they were a success, but they created a lot of mess in the water. When they drained the lake several years back now, they had to catch all the carp. Apparently they removed 3,500 carp. When the lake was refilled it was restocked with a different type of fish - 1,000 Golden Orfe and Golden Rudd, which are more dainty surface feeders. They can occasionally be seen around the waterfall – and presumably elsewhere, but given that they come to the surface more than the carp used to they may thus be easier prey for the predatory birds.


Mammals


The most common mammals in and around the Barbican, apart from rats and mice which tend to keep themselves well hidden – and the odd pet cat – and occasional small dog - of course defying the lease terms – are foxes and squirrels. Foxes can frequently be seen, and heard, in the Barbican. They have


7


Heron on the Barbican waterfall outside Brandon Mews.


(Photograph by Lawrence Williams)


fish in the lake. According to Michael Barrett’s newsletter noted above, originally there weren’t going to be any fish in the lake. But then swarms of midges began to bite concert goers. So carp were


ISurvivors - at least for now. Mother mallard and seven ducklings on the lake below Mountjoy House. (photo by Lawrence Williams)


Canada Goose picture courtesy Rror


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