I'm already noticing a change in the way the voles are feeding, and moving about generally. Just a month ago they were happy to swim about openly in front of my camera and sit and eat just by my feet. Now they're dashing past at speed underwater, and the two I saw feeding tonight were working from the safety of tunnels, occasionally putting out their noses but that was all. I suspect it's to do with population density which is thinning out now the voles are dispersing to new sites. I know there are still plenty of animals about - the banks are still volescaped and there are lots of fresh droppings and tidy burrows, prints and chopped or grazed vegetation. These signs will gradually disappear, though, as autumn progresses.
The practical upshot for this blog is that I don't think I'll be getting many more photos; the pictures of voles at the top are some of John Harding's, taken earlier this year. However, as I usually do, I'll be keeping an eye on this colony and the others over the winter and cataloguing the first field signs as they appear in spring. In general it's not been a bad year for water voles in Whitchurch, mainly because we don't experience the severe flooding many other sites have had across the country, and because we've managed to keep the mink out for another season. Long may it continue!