Friday, 7 March 2014
Monday, 3 March 2014
Reed bunting at Broughall and below, one of three skylarks in the same field
Feeding station at Broughall
Insert vole here.
Always a thrill to spot the first water vole of the year. Too quick for me to catch with my camera, but he was swimming downstream in the brook which runs through the field off Edgeley Road. There are very few signs here as yet - no latrines and hardly any burrows - although in the past this has been a very strong colony. Areas of this stretch are still flooded, so I don't know how that's affected numbers. I'll keep watching.
Saturday, 1 March 2014
Lapwings and crocuses
Below, latrines and prints
There were so many latrines along the ditch at Broughall I stopped counting. How many voles on this
stretch? It's very encouraging. There was also a flock of about sixty lapwings wheeling about and calling.
Saturday, 22 February 2014
Otter spraint above, and below some otter prints from Whitchurch Country Park (Greenfields)
Water voles prints (I hope), also from the country park.
Put the trail cam out last night on a hunch, and got the year's first hedgehog footage. The one in the shed's still asleep, but this wild one was eating hungrily all night. I'm pleased to say that when it turned round, it was Rainbow, the hog who lives across the road.
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Field at Broughall - great habitat
Broughall water vole droppings and paw prints
The field off Edgeley Road, and below...
...and more paw prints
Gorgeous mugs from British Wildlife Gifts http://www.britishwildlifegifts.co.uk/
The weather's so vile it's been hard to get out much, but early signs in two areas look hopeful. The stream which goes across the fields at Broughall already has small latrines on the banks, and I'm just starting to see a few burrows in the colony off Edgeley Road. That last area's been flooded, though, so I suspect that will have had an impact on numbers. We'll have to see.
Wednesday, 5 February 2014
The Environment Agency removing unlawful timber revetments along the bank at Edward German Drive. This will help protect properties with better flood management, and also benefit water voles.
Further up the brook at Edward German Drive: water vole paw prints.
The brook by the railway bridge burst its banks last week. I hope some of the voles have escaped up the higher bank.
Water vole footprints at White Lion Meadow (near Tesco).
The flooded field off Edgeley Road. There are are no high banks into which the voles can climb out of the way of the water, so I'm hoping they've been able to take refuge in the sedge.
At the moment there are no signs at all in the field off Edgeley Road, unless this photo above is a burrow. Water voles don't usually leave spoil heaps outside, though, so it could be mole or rat.
I was dismayed and cross to hear on the radio a few days ago Michael Eavis name-check water voles as one of the causes of flooding. I know: how bizarre can you get? His argument was that 'rivers aren't being dredged properly because of environmentalists wanting to protect riparian habitat', and that 'dredging alone is the solution to managing extreme rainfall'.
He's wrong about dredging, as this article explains:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/30/dredging-rivers-floods-somerset-levels-david-cameron-farmers but he's also wrong to reference water voles as they don't even live along broad, fast-flowing rivers, so they're just not part of the equation here.
In fact the one place in Whitchurch that's flooded this winter happens to be immediately downstream from a channel that's been dredged by the landowner, although I think the immediate cause was a blockage under the bridge.
I can understand Eavis wanting to look for scapegoats, but that's not the way to solve the problem. Unusual dramatic flooding is bad for everyone, voles included, and needs a joined-up strategy from a forward-thinking, intelligent Minister for the Environment. One who understands that what's bad for wildlife is bad for humans too.
Saturday, 25 January 2014
Want to get your kids/teens/reluctant partner involved in counting garden birds? Offer sneaky incentives. As well as stocking up with bird food for the survey hour, I always get in various treats for the rest of the family. I don't insist anyone joins me, but I keep the kitchen warm and have some comedy playing on the radio or iPod, and one by one they come and pick up the binoculars and start spotting. It's a very comfy way to birdwatch but the survey results are important so at the same time we feel we're doing a useful job. This year we had very few birds and only eight species. That doesn't matter, though. The RSPB needs all the records they can get hold of.
Our 2014 results?
1 coal tit
4 house sparrows
4 wood pigeons
2 blue tits