Friday, 14 June 2019

Reporting Safe After the Rain

I was worried about the voles because of the heavy rain we've had here. Little ones and even adults can get swept away and drown. However, this evening - the first I've been out for days - I went down to the car park and saw that on the barrier that's been thrown in by vandals, the voles had left a message to say they were OK. Then I walked down to the Timber Yard and saw one straight away. I don't know about the babies under the willow tree; mum was there but I didn't spot any of her offspring. I'll keep watching.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A New Behaviour? Water Vole Eating an Insect

Above: two baby water voles from the same litter. Below, the mum.

Iain Green's capture of a water vole eating a stickleback.

I could see one of the baby voles was making a hearty meal of something, but it wasn't till I got back home and examined the photos closely that I realised it was eating a hoverfly or wasp. I was amazed! I've never seen this behaviour before. Water vole expert Derek Gow says there are Victorian records of water voles feeding on insects, and Iain Green once saw an adult vole eating a fish (I reproduce that picture with permission). In S A Ryder's book, there's a note about observing a pregnant female vole eat a dead perch, for the protein. But I imagine its quite rare behaviour. My guess is that the baby found the fly or wasp already dead and just 'had a go'.

Monday, 3 June 2019

A Bit of an Explosion

Large male hedgehog in our garden two nights ago. I brought him in to check him for ticks and wounds but he seemed fine, and he was back again last night.

 Mum vole keeping watch on her three (or more) babies who are just out of the nest.

 Really big adult. I suspect this is a male.

Mum and baby again.

Small adult, so probably born early this year.

I'm delighted to report a modest water vole population explosion at the car park near Tesco. I saw at least four adults this evening, and at least three very small babies who probably only a week or so out of the nest. There are relatively few predators by the car park as it's so busy, so these babies have a better chance than most of surviving into adulthood.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Family Outing

Mum or dad water vole above, plus two babies below.

 They are very small: not much bigger than a Brussels sprout.

Someone's thrown two barriers into the brook. This is not helpful.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Leading Me a Dance

Above: Common Blue and forget-me-nots. Below, Cinnabar moth and rabbit dropping.

Lots of latrines at Edgeley Road.

I waited two hours in the wrong place this evening, then tried another spot and there was a vole straight away. It can be tricky deciding which colony to visit for the best results.

Monday, 27 May 2019

A Mixed Picture

 Edward German Drive vole

 White-faced darter and a female Stonechat,on Whixall Moss

 Wood Yard vole

  Droppings and a vole at Edgeley Road

Below: two more Edward German Drive voles, from different days.

I'm struggling to see voles in the usual places this year. The field signs are there, but actual sightings are proving tricky. There's been some sort of scum on the water this week right the way along the Staggs Brook, plus the growth of sewage fungus, so I'm hoping that's not impacted on the health of the wildlife. (Sewage fungus isn't caused by sewage, it just gets its name because it looks unpleasant.) Perhaps rain will help. On the plus side, there's more vole activity than I've ever seen on Edward German Drive.

Water vole populations do have a natural 'boom and bust' cycle, peaking and crashing every four years, so maybe this is just a normal fluctuation. I hope so.