Sunday, 13 July 2008

Good Showing in the Country Park

It's been a while since I've checked Whitchurch Country Park, and I was delighted to find when I visited today lots of signs of a good water vole colony. In the three places I managed to get down to the water side, I found latrines, which is just about the only unambiguous field sign, bar seeing an actual water vole. The burrow above is a particularly helpful example: 'Just how obvious do you want me to be that this is a w-v burrow?' says the occupant.
The whole area round the brook here is chest-high in nettles and other plants, making it pretty much undisturbed habitat for all sorts of creatures like this common shrew, butterfly and dragonfly (IDs, anyone?) Never mind the rain-forest canopy: what's going on here at ground level is an incredibly busy and rich eco system.
While I'm here, hello to my readers at Aberdeen University!


Jane said...

Great pictures Kate. I think the butterfly is a Meadow Brown. When you go looking at these brooks... are they on private land? do you have to get permission? or do you just look around? I'm always a bit worried as you can get some funny looks from people when you are pocking around in rivers next to industrial estates. Just wondered. Thanks. Jane

Kate said...

Ha ha, that's true! I'm always getting funny looks from people!

No, when I go out on my own it's always to public sites, or places like Brick Kiln Farm which is private but where I've got permission from the landowner to go and check on the voles.

When we go out as a team, our group leader has always spoken to whoever owns the waterway in question, and made sure we have permission to be there. We need landowners on our side, so the last thing we'd want to do is crash onto somone's private field.

Luckily, a lot of the places round here where water voles live are both public and accessible (to someone with a long-sleeved shirt, gardening gloves, waders and a stout stick!).

Kate said...

Oh, and Health and Safety guidelines suggest you work with at least one other person, in case you have soem sort of emergency. :-)

Thanks for the butterfly ID, by the way.