Saturday, 19 May 2007
Anxious to discover whether the voles had moved upstream, I borrowed these vole-rafts from Malcolm Monie. They're sandwiches of plywood and polystyrene with a bolt through the middle and a loop on the top, through which you put some string to tether the raft. I used the ends of a wire coat hanger as a peg (though I obviously didn't stick it in far enough because the raft moved during the night). The idea is that, if you lay the raft during dry weather, a water vole will climb onto it and mark it in some way, either with droppings or chopped grass.
It rained during the night, though, so the whole thing proved to be a bit of a waste of time. The leaves on there I suspect just dropped on of their own accord. Hopeless looking for field signs during wet weather, though the print above looks likely.
Although there are more predators in this section of the brook - lots and lots of cats, unfortunately - there's still cover and sloping banks and plenty of food, like the flag iris above. However, I couldn't find any feeding stations or cut vegetation.
Anyway, just as I was feeling it was all a bit hopeless I met a dog-walkwer who said he saw two voles there last night. Then, ten minutes later, up pops this one. Can you see him in the middle of the photo above? The voles up here are much shyer, so I couldn't get very close. Just goes to show, they can be present even in the absence of field signs.
And on a non-vole footnote, my neighbour tells me we have house martins in the roof, and this morning I spotted our blue tits taking food into the nest box.