Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Debbie's Voles Again

 Burrows, vole-scaping and feeding at Railwayman's Cottage

 Common shrew

Garden tiger moth caterpillar I rescued from the water.

I went to check up on my friend Debbie's voles and found they're doing extremely well. It's a superb site where you can get really close, and the voles are very active. I saw one swimming just in front of me only half an hour ago. They've really shaped the banks with their trails, trackways, runs and chutes, too.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


If you're hoping to photograph or observe voles and you know they're present on a site, look for the little islands and promontories and shelves where they might pause to take a groom or to set up a latrine. Then you can station yourself nearby and wait.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

What are these two up to?

I can't decide whether they're about to mate or attack.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

What is the Deal with Snails?

A quick check in the Country Park reveals several latrines, but also the caches of nibbled snail shells I've seen before, some right next to water vole droppings. Is it water voles who are eating them? Or field voles, or rats? I would love to know.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Belton Farm

Terrific habitat above - lots of cover and food for voles, silty stream-bed.

 Not so good for voles: stony stream-bed.

Three lots of nibbled snails. Who's eating these - field voles, water voles or rats?

 Trackway by the water's edge. It's a good idea to look here for prints and droppings.

 Edgeley Road vole
 Water vole 'lawn' round burrow entrance.

 Mallard nest
Very small frog
Lots of good signs on this morning's survey near Belton Farm, which is next to the large vole colony at Whitwater fishery. But not all the habitat is right for water voles as some of the banks are shaded and don't have enough vegetation, and not all of the stream has mud at its bottom (which water voles like to kick up as a screen to hide from predators). Lots of evidence of field voles, though.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

And Water Shrews

The middle photo is the stream surface boiling around a busy little water shrew, the first live one I've seen this year.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Riverbanks like Swiss Cheese

There are now so many burrows in some sections of the stream that I'm amazed the bank is holding together. Some will lead into the water while others connect up with chambers for nesting, food storage, babies etc. The more entrances available, the less chance the vole has of being eaten.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


As in 2012/13, Lorcan and I took a juvenile hog each from the West Midlands Rescue Centre and overwintered them in our sheds till they were fat and healthy enough to go. I released mine a few weeks ago, but Lorcan thought it would be nice to bring his round to my garden since I already have a lot of hedgehogs (six individuals identified so far this year) and also mine and his were brothers. I suppose we had this idea it would be nice if they were reunited.

Lorcan's hedgehog, "L", turned out to be almost twice the size of mine, and in fact of any other hogs in the garden. L has settled in very well and is king of the lawn due to his immense girth. He runs at other hogs and barges them out of the way.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Gathering Momentum

The banks are now riddled with burrows, like Swiss cheese. Some burrows are only a few inches apart to enable multiple choices of getaway. Meanwhile, here's the first water shrew of the year (unfortunately dead).