A water vole survey today on the Moss turned up no actual water voles, but we did see lots of sundews, an adder skin, a Large Skipper butterfly, a Tiger Moth and a water scorpion. The voles pictured above are from Edgeley Road.
I'm seeing lots and lots of voles at the moment. Breeding's supposed to peak in May and then again towards September, so I expect these babies I'm seeing are the result of that first peak. In the two bottom photos, the adult's been grooming and spreading musk from the glands on her flanks, which is why the fur there's disturbed.
Astonishing that not one but two water voles would come up and feed right at my feet. This happens maybe once every couple of years, that you get a particularly bold individual, and in this case her presence is probably encouraging one of her offspring to join in. The population at Edgeley Road seems to be strong this year, and numbers help confidence.
Always a joy to see families interacting. Adult voles are fiercely territorial and will see one another off, but here were two voles feeding happily near each other, the one on the right a juvenile and the one on the left fully-grown. In the fourth picture down, you can see how much darker the juv's coat is - I wonder whether this is to help them blend in better against the muddy bank and so increase their survival rate? Anyway, I suspect the large vole is the smaller one's mother. There are quite a few babies about at the moment,
Digging furiously. Water voles dig with their paws or their teeth.
If anyone's checking out the blog for the first time, then hello! About a Brook is a public record of water vole activity around Whitchurch which council planners, developers and landowners can use to check the 'vole-quotient' of various sites. It's also a resource bank of images about water voles - latrines and droppings, burrows, paw prints and feeding signs, to help you find voles of your own.
If you know of water voles near you, do always report sightings, as they're a protected species but we cant protect them unless we know they're there.
Two different baby water voles. The lower pic shows a vole with white hairs on its forehead, something I've seen before.
Water voles making use of a discarded gas canister to start a latrine.
With luck, there'll be a little piece on Whitchurch's water voles on Midlands Today airing next Monday. We had a sighting of a White Lion Meadow vole, looked at some feeding from the banks there, then walked up to Edward German Drive to film burrows and a latrine. Later in the day I saw my first baby vole of the year - two, in fact, of exactly the same size so probably from the same litter.
This blog charts the fortunes of water voles in and around the Whitchurch area, North Shropshire. Water voles are one of the UK's most threatened mammals, extinct in many counties, and so it's vital they receive as much monitoring and protection as there is going. Here in Whitchurch we're lucky enough to have them right in the middle of town - how cool is that?