Saturday, 11 October 2008

What's been eating water vole on the Prees Branch Canal?

A water vole claw? Plus a rodent leg bone, I think.

Whose scat?

Water vole feeding, with a dropping deposited on a stalk nearby.

Water vole feeding

Went down to check the rafts today and found plenty of water vole feeding all the way from Waterloo to Whixall marina, but also this scat which contained fur, what might have been vegetation, bones, teeth and (water vole?) claws. Mink scat's supposed to smell really foul, but this didn't; it smelt musty, mushroomy, or like an old damp cupboard. So I'm thinking - hoping - it's polecat, which we do have in the area. Mink scat often contains fish scales and fishbones.
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Although polecats do eat water voles, and it's a shame to find evidence of a dead vole, I'd rather it was due to a native, in-the-balance predator than a mink. I'm waiting to get some other views on identification.
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Update on the scat: the Mammal Recorder for Shropshire thinks fox, and so does my friend on the Wild About Britain forums. Coincidentally, I went to the garden centre this afternoon and took a moment to study the ferrets they have in the pet section. Their scat is thinner, twistier and pointier than the stuff I posted above, so I think I was off the mark when I said 'mustelid'.

3 comments:

Yekal said...

Hi Kate,

I have a boat moored at Whixall and I often go for walks through the nature reserve, but rarely see anything, I prefer to go out on the boat usually and hopefully when all the holiday makers have gone. Now to your point. I think it was about end September begining October, while out on the boat I watched a Mink on the bank of the canal, it was stalking something it was doing this for a couple of minuets also kept looking over the edge into the water, typical sods law as I got the camera out it dissapeared.

Yekal.

Yekal said...

Hi Kate,

I have a boat moored at Whixall and I often go for walks through the nature reserve, but rarely see anything, I prefer to go out on the boat usually and hopefully when all the holiday makers have gone. Now to your point. I think it was about end September begining October, while out on the boat I watched a Mink on the bank of the canal, it was stalking something it was doing this for a couple of minuets also kept looking over the edge into the water, typical sods law as I got the camera out it dissapeared.

Yekal.

Kate said...

Thanks for that info.