I thought I'd put together a list of kit I've found useful over the last three years for doing surveying work and checking mink rafts. Apologies if some of these seem self-evident, but there didn't seem any point in making an equipment list unless it was fairly comprehensive. So here are some of the items I take with me when I go voling:
* gloves to protect from scratches and germs (can be latex gloves if gardening ones make you too clumsy)
* gadget for scale - coin attached to a length of fishing twine wound round a cork
* pole/stick/grabber - useful for helping you balance as you scramble up and down banks, or test the depth of mud before you step into water
* little bag or pot for putting interesting samples in, eg pieces of feeding
* bottle of clean water for smoothing out the clay tracking compartment on the mink raft
* ruler for smoothing out clay, plus to help with scale in photographs
* ID book to help with tracks and scat etc - my favourite's Rob Strachan's Mammal Detective
You might also take along a phone, spare camera battery, sterile hand wipes or alcohol-based hand cleanser, binoculars/scope (though the zoom on a camera works quite well for this purpose), handheld GPS tracker for grid references, a sketch map and pencil on a clipboard (essential for proper survey recording).
If anyone has any other suggestions, do add them.
I include a recent photo from White Lion Meadow of feeding. I've spotted a suspicious-looking hole with spoil outside it; water voles dig inwards and don't leave spoil heaps outside their burrows, so I'm concerned this may be a rat.