Friday, 9 October 2009

Summary of 2009



The vole-watching season's pretty much over, so this blog will be doing what the water voles do, which is to go into semi-hibernation till the spring (not true hibernation, but a kind of torpor with only occasional appearances above ground!).
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So has it been a good year for water voles in and around Whitchurch? Well, there've been gains and losses, as some colonies began well and then seemed to fall away, and others started hesitantly and became very strong. The most active have been in the fields near me, the ditches near Grocontinental which have afforded me lots of sightings and photographs. White Lion Meadow's been quiet, but perhaps not as quiet as sightings would suggest, in that I've spent a lot less time watching there because there wasn't so much obvious activity - a vicious and unscientific circle. I'm still not sure whether the sightings across the car park at Lidl were field/bank vole.
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Edward German Drive has been steady: no actual sightings, but a lot of clear field signs. The back of Wayland Road is hard to access, but there were certainly water voles there mid-summer.
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Moving further up, the section by the railway bridge near Homebase suffered some kind of crash: last year there was a very strong colony there, and there were plenty of field signs in spring 2009. But when I surveyed late summer, there was nothing at all round the bridge, only at the end near the field. I have no explanation for that, but it goes to show how what looks like a completely established group can easily be wiped out. However, they do beed quickly, and colonies naturally shift and expand and contract, so as long as there are voles on reither side, that section should be repopulated again as the habitat's excellent.
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Albert and I both found lots of vole activity at Black Park Road, but I couldn't see anything at Yockings Gate. There was some vicious dredging there, so I think it'll need anopther year before the banks are suitable again. And I haven't followed the Staggs Brook further up as it's private land. The golf course now seems to have lost all its water voles (and there were so many a few years back! I suspect mink as we've had reports from round there) but there've been vole sightings in ditches close by.
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On the other side of town the various colonies at the Country Park have been consistent, and moving out of Whitchurch, we've continued to see field signs at Steel Heath, the Prees Branch Canal between Waterloo and Whixall Marina, and in Whixall generally. I haven't spent much time oneither Brown Moss or Whixall Moss this year, so I don't know how the voles are doing there.
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Anyway, all we can do is hope enough make it through the winter to get cracking next year. I'll be out with my camera the first warm day in February!

6 comments:

Richard said...

Enjoy your much deserved torpor. Do you think the number of water voles has increased or decreased from previous years?

Kate said...

I don't have an empirical measurement of population, but my gut feeling is that they've at least held their own.

Richard said...

I guess when talking about water voles, we should see that as a good sign.

Ben said...

See you Kate

I really enjoy reading your posts. Look forward to you and the voles returning in the spring.

Kate said...

Cheers, Ben. My prject over tghe autumn is to keep feeding the birds, and also the woodmouse who lives in the greenhouse.

womagwriter said...

Sleep well, little voles. Hope to see you in the spring.