Monday, 24 April 2017

Advanced Poo-spotting

Holly Blue

 Treecreeper - there are a pair of these, one often feeding the other.

Below, water vole droppings on mud can be hard to spot!

Spotting water vole droppings is great because they're one of the few field signs that are unambiguous. Rounded at each end, slightly larger than Tic Tacs and odourless, water vole pellets are often deposited as territorial markers. Sometimes voles will choose prominent, impervious surfaces on which to poo, like logs or flat stones or plastic bottles, old car sponges, abandoned polystyrene tiles. Then latrines are easy to spot. But when voles leave their olive/brown droppings on mud - and then trample them - it can be hard to distinguish. Use a zoom lens or binoculars to examine closely any spot where the soil looks a bit lumpy, or where flies are gathering.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Amazing Adder

Hugely exciting encounter on Wem Moss this morning as a young male adder slid across our path and then sat and basked on the bank while we took photos. It was lovely to see how relaxed the snake was, flattening itself out to catch maximum warmth from the sun. Because it was fairly small (see bottom photo) I assume this was only a juvenile. I wouldn't think it was much bigger than about 40cm. Needless to say, I've reported it via

Friday, 21 April 2017


 Long tailed tit

 Ruby tiger moth

 Adder skin?

These voles above are the two that were fighting in the previous video. The one with the wound on its neck ran off into the field, away from the water. The other vole sat and groomed, and then rubbed its chin up and down the muddy twig in the second-to-last picture. I thought their musk glands were on their flanks, like hamsters', but perhaps there's another located round the neck. Or maybe it was just itchy! I don't know if the first vole will come back now, or if it will have to find another territory.

I like this White Lion Meadow photo as it shows a water vole in the process of creating a feeding station. Piles of chopped up leaves are often a good indicator that water voles are about, though if the scale's very small, it can be the work of field voles.

Fighting Voles


These two Edgeley Road water voles fought in bouts, for about three minutes. The winner came from upstream, and the defeated vole was the one with the wound on its neck. I'm not sure what happens next though: does the chased-off vole creep out later, when the victor's swum back to its territory?

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Llangollen Canal

 Bee fly. I love them.

 Definitely vole feeding. Water vole? Or field vole?

 This burrow is the right size for water vole.

I found myself on a stretch of the Llangollen canal past Ellesemere where I knew there was a history of water vole presence, so I stopped and had a look. The signs weren't quite as definitive as last time, but there were quite a few burrows of the right diameter - think Pringles tube - and some definite feeding. However, it's not just water voles who cut stems at 45%; field voles do too, and there were also field vole burrows. So this is a site to watch, I'd say.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Spot of Video Footage


The wound on the side of the vole's head is clearer here.

Black Park Road

 Black Park Road as it looks now, with (below) burrows and feeding signs.


A quick check along this stretch of the brook shows water vole presence every few yards. The vole pictured is one of the Edgeley Rad colony, but it has a wound on the left side of its head. I don't know how bad the damage is. You very often see one-eyed voles, or voles with scarring due to fighting, and they seem to manage all right. I suppose it depends whether the wound becomes infected or not.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Further Afield

 Yellowhammer, on Prees Heath

 Burrows along Edward German Drive

 Great crested newts, Brown Moss

 Water vole burrows and a vole "lawn" at Greenfields (Whitchurch Country Park)

 The brook as it passes through Greenfields nature reserve

 Mossfields, the back of Saddler's Walk, and one of many many feeding stations there

White Lion Meadow vole from this evening

A reminder that water voles leave piled of chopped-up vegetation, cut slantwise at both ends (see 7th pic down). Field voles also do this, but on a much daintier scale and using smaller leaves, eg juncus and blades of grass. Field voles are also more likely to poo on their feeding stations.