Friday, 18 April 2014

Belton Farm



Terrific habitat above - lots of cover and food for voles, silty stream-bed.
 

 Not so good for voles: stony stream-bed.
 


 
Three lots of nibbled snails. Who's eating these - field voles, water voles or rats?

 Trackway by the water's edge. It's a good idea to look here for prints and droppings.
 

 Edgeley Road vole
 
 Water vole 'lawn' round burrow entrance.
 

 Mallard nest
 
Very small frog
 
Lots of good signs on this morning's survey near Belton Farm, which is next to the large vole colony at Whitwater fishery. But not all the habitat is right for water voles as some of the banks are shaded and don't have enough vegetation, and not all of the stream has mud at its bottom (which water voles like to kick up as a screen to hide from predators). Lots of evidence of field voles, though.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

And Water Shrews





 
The middle photo is the stream surface boiling around a busy little water shrew, the first live one I've seen this year.



Thursday, 10 April 2014

Riverbanks like Swiss Cheese







There are now so many burrows in some sections of the stream that I'm amazed the bank is holding together. Some will lead into the water while others connect up with chambers for nesting, food storage, babies etc. The more entrances available, the less chance the vole has of being eaten.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hedgehoggery





As in 2012/13, Lorcan and I took a juvenile hog each from the West Midlands Rescue Centre http://www.westmidlandshedgehogrescue.org.uk/ and overwintered them in our sheds till they were fat and healthy enough to go. I released mine a few weeks ago, but Lorcan thought it would be nice to bring his round to my garden since I already have a lot of hedgehogs (six individuals identified so far this year) and also mine and his were brothers. I suppose we had this idea it would be nice if they were reunited.

Lorcan's hedgehog, "L", turned out to be almost twice the size of mine, and in fact of any other hogs in the garden. L has settled in very well and is king of the lawn due to his immense girth. He runs at other hogs and barges them out of the way.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Gathering Momentum







The banks are now riddled with burrows, like Swiss cheese. Some burrows are only a few inches apart to enable multiple choices of getaway. Meanwhile, here's the first water shrew of the year (unfortunately dead).

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Peep




At this time of year the voles are still very nervous and I'm only getting quick glimpses. Plenty of burrows appearing, though!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

On Radio 4 Extra

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ynp0m

Here I am on Mel Geidroyc's Four O' Clock Show on Radio 4 Extra, 17 minutes in. Later on in the programme you can hear another chapter in the excellent serialisation of Tom Moorhouse's The River Singers, a thrilling story of water vole adventures.