Monday, 25 May 2009

Toads etc

Hastily departing toad, in a field near Marbury.

Otter spraint, Whitchurch Country Park

Common Blues, Whitchurch Country Park

Water vole latrine on rubbish: ditch near Grocontinental


Feeding and latrine, ditch near Grocontinental

Snails plus conventional water vole feeding stations, Black Park Road.
Feeding station, White Lion Meadow
The first decent day in ages, so I spent most of it out and about checking up on established sites. In summary, the back of Black Park Road seems to be heaving with water voles, judging by the amount of feeding going on there (including stacks of nibbled snail shells). This despite the fact there's hardly any clear water channel left because the reeds are so dense.
I couldn't get down to the banks at the Country Park as it was too nettly and I didn't have the right clothing, but I found fairly recent otter spraint under the concrete bridge. Again this is good news for voles because otter presence discourages mink.
In the ditch near Grocontinental there's plenty of feeding and a few latrines, though the heavy rabbit presence makes it difficult sometimes to see the water vole tracks. One latrine was on top of some discarded polysytrene caught up in the grate by the culvert. It's always worth casting an eye over floating rubbish for vole signs.
No sightings at White Lion Meadow for over a week now. I would have thought these voles had moved, except that a brief peep between the reeds by the pipe revealed two feeding stations and droppings, so they're definitely about. I must just have been unlucky.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Cromford Voles - another treat from John Harding

Cromford Canal Water Voles from John Harding on Vimeo.

When you draw a blank

Field vole droppings - water voles' are twice the size
Sometimes an area looks brilliant for water voles, but a survey throws up hardly anything and it's hard not to feel a little disheartened. Emma Broad, biodiversity officer for the Wrexham area, organized a survey day round Pulford, and pretty much all my group found was field vole latrines and feeding. Rob Strachan's group discovered one or two water vole droppings, but also a mink den, which probably explains why such good habitat's going unused. At least remedial action can be taken now, so in a sense the survey was a success.
Some nice views of a pipistrelle (?) round my back door last night. Too fast for a photo, though!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Checking into the Prees Branch Canal again

Apologies for the worse-than-usual standard of photo; I had to take this with my phone because my camera batteries had run out. Anyway, this is otter spraint left under the bridge, the second spraint I've seen on this stretch in a couple of months. Good evidence of water vole feeding on both sides of the bridge, and the rafts were clear too. Thanks to Joan for her help in monitoring this area.
Two sightings at White Lion Meadow today (in between showers!).

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

White Lion Meadow

There's building work going on by the car park just now, so the voles aren't showing during the day. Here's one taken at dusk.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Round and about

Feeding and droppings at Brick Kiln Farm

Big latrine in the ditch near Grocontinental

Feeding station at the back of Edward German Drive
It's been cold, wet and windy for much of this week and I haven't seen any voles at all at White Lion Meadow. However they're still leaving prints in the mud and making their flattened areas of grass, so I know they're there.
Elsewhere the signs are positive, as shown by the photographs above.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

This afternoon

White Lion Meadow vole from this afternoon

Latrine at Greenfields Rise (left hand side of the bridge as you turn in)

Latrine at Greenfields Rise (right hand side of the bridge)

Rat spotted at the railway bridge near Homebase - note the pointy muzzle and white feet.

Our WLM vole again - blunt muzzle and black feet, for comparison with the rat.


Orange tip, Whitchurch Country Park (taken by my son)

Speckled wood, Whixall Moss

Small white, my front door

Peacock, Fordhall Farm

Green veined white, Whixall Moss

Brimstone and peacock at Whixall Moss

I don't know much about butterflies, but there seem to have been a lot about lately. Or maybe it's that I've been hanging round places where no one uses pesticides - Whixall Moss, Fordhall Farm, Whitchurch Country Park. Either way, they're great to see. (If any of my IDs are wrong, please let me know.)
We also saw a stoat and a lizard and possibly a hobby while we were at the Moss.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Hooray, it's May

Shy White Lion Meadow car park vole

Droppings under the railway bridge near Homebase. Plenty of feeding round here, too.
If there is a prize for the stupidest wildlife photographer as well as the clumsiest, then I claim it, for spending ten minutes this evening stalking and photographing a dead rat, under the impression it was a live water vole. And no, I'm not going to post the results.