Sunday, 17 September 2017

Appropriate Management of Banks

The Environment Agency have been strimming the banks as they usually do in autumn, using what I'm pretty sure is an 'M cut' where you leave a good fringe of cover next to the water's edge. This is vole-friendly maintenance. A few years back, the EA very kindly came out and chatted with the Whitchurch Water Vole Group about what was best for both flood management and wildlife, and have consulted us ever since.

I was delighted to get three sightings at White Lion Meadow today. There are certainly quite a lot of droppings about, showing that voles are active there.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

September Voles

Bank vole

The water vole activity remains stubbornly nocturnal, though there've been no more otter sightings or particular signs of other predators. Video footage shows the colony's as busy as ever.

Meanwhile this dead bank vole was left on our drive by a cat, and I post the photo because it's useful to get a really good close look at the features which make it identifiable. Nose blunt and ears small = vole, no question. But it's too small for a water vole, which means (on mainland UK) either bank-vole or field-vole. So then you check the tail and here it's just over 50% of body length, which makes it definitely bank vole; in field voles the tail is much shorter. In fact sometimes field voles are called 'short-tailed voles'. There are subtle differences in fur colour and texture too, with bank voles being a little redder than their greyish cousins. Tail's the main identifying factor, though.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Relative Sizes of Riparian Mammals

Otter Bottom



A surprise last night: this flash of full-grown adult otter disappearing upstream. I've seen otters before here, in Sept 2014 (previous otters) and twice over the years found their spraint, but I don't believe they use this tiny stream as anything other than a corridor. It's barely deep enough for an otter to paddle in, and only about two-otters-wide. Otters will take water voles but are too big to fit down the burrows in pursuit, so I'm hoping my little team will stay safe.

I've no idea whether this is related to the change in my voles' routines!

Saturday, 26 August 2017




I'm getting nightly sightings but still nothing in the day. It was lovely to capture footage of this nesting vole, though. I've seen voles gathering bedding before, but never managed to catch it on camera. Not sure whether this is a female getting ready for a litter, or whether voles of both sexes gather material this way. Does anyone know?

Edited: yes, Derek Gow, patron saint of water voles does. He says: "Both sexes are perfectly capable of building nests. Males underground tend to avoid females as they are pretty belligerent. We don't know if the males play a direct role in rearing young but they are tolerant of them." So this vole in the video clip could be male or female. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Nocturnal Voles



 18th August

 19th August

 20th August

 21st August

22nd August

I haven't seen any voles out in daylight for ten days now, but there've been fresh droppings every time I've looked so I knew they were still around. Putting down a trail cam revealed plenty of activity, but all taking place at night. This is behaviour I normally see towards the middle of September, so I'm surprised. Unless there's a new predator about, and that's affecting their routine?