The Countryside About Us August 1998

posted 29 Jul 2018, 09:01 by Earl Soham Web Admin

The rather insignificant River Ken, that trundles its way via the parishes of Kenton, Earl Soham (marking part of the boundary with Cretingham) and Brandeston. to join up with its superior partner the River Deben, is being managed! Those of you who have wells in your garden will know, and many others may have read, that a bore hole, not yet in use, has been sunk at the pumping station near the Low Meadows in Earl Soham. Now, if you take a walk along Swan Lane and look to your right by the bridge over this river you might be surprised to see constructed what looks like a small dam. I had to satisfy my curiosity (and I was also anxious to establish that our peaceful parish was not on the verge of some vast hydro electric scheme!) so eventually my enquiries led me to the Environmental Agency. They patiently explained that the “dam” was in fact a temporary weir structure. This, when the bore hole commences to add water to the Ken (and thereby the Deben) will enable them to measure the height of the water passing through the weir, and hence the flow. This is logged every 15 minutes on a device contained in a mysterious padlocked box beside the weir. However, as we have had 7½(190.5 mm) of rainfall during the last 3 months it has not been necessary to start up the bore hole. Another temporary weir structure can be seen from the bridge on the road to Cretingham from Brandeston. It is where the river Ken meets the upper reaches of the Deben.

Any doubts that may have lingered in my mind as to the wisdom of feeding wild birds throughout the year, rather than just in the winter months, have now been finally dismissed. I am quite convinced that, apart from the entertainment value, a supplement to their natural food is much appreciated. From my observations there is a constant coming and going to the feed stations throughout the daylight hours. A great tit daily brought her newly flying youngsters to be fed until they learnt to forage for themselves. To my great surprise a whitethroat even alighted on the peanut container and probed the contents. Peanuts of course, must never be offered whole, but always fed through the familiar wire mesh tube feeders. Try to suspend the feeders in a sheltered spot, which helps to protect the birds from the swift attention of a sparrow hawk. These predators have quickly learnt that bird tables are good sources of a quick ”non vegetarian meal“. A shallow water supply is equally important. Another form of help for our garden birds is provision of nest boxes, both for blue or great tits and robins. Less usual but equally welcome is the siting of artificial nests placed under the eaves of houses for the rather beleaguered house martin. I was pleased to see such a box installed on a house in Bedfield. 

Roger Sykes