Monday, 31 December 2007

Prints to end the year with

It's not always easy to distinguish rat footprints from water vole - I glimpsed a rat while I was taking these pictures! - but I reckon these starry prints are our voles.
No trolleys in the water at the moment, though I still haven't spoken to the manager about his plans. Then again, we've all been busy. I'll pursue the situation in the New Year.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Trolleys out again (well, they were at 10.30 this morning).

Friday, 14 December 2007

Had a really encouraging email from the new manager, Richard Mills, saying he'd pulled all the trolleys out, and was keen to talk to me about how we can resolve the situation. However, I've just gone past the store now and there are two more of the new electronic-wheel trolleys in the water. I'm really hoping Mr Mills is going to be the one to grasp that, unless coin-operated trolleys are installed, the problem's just going to go on, and on, and on.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Had an ID for the last set of Prees Branch canal prints - brown rat, so that's ok. Meanwhile, at White Lion Meadow car park, the mess continues. The first trolley is still in there, and there's now another, by the bridge, of the new locking-wheel ones that were supposed to solve the problem.
(Incidentally, since these new-design wheels no longer come with conventional brakes, people are much more likely to come back find their vehicles dented, as shoppers struggle to control heavy brakeless trolleys on a sloping car park.)

Friday, 7 December 2007

Out on Whixall Moss

Brilliant afternoon investigating ditches with Pete Bowyer, who's assistant site manager for the Fenns, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR. The area's managed overall by the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England.
It's a fantastic area for all sorts of wildlife, and though we didn't find any conclusive evidence of water voles (a possible burrow, some possible feeding) we did find stacks of rodent activity, mainly field vole. In fact, one jumped over my hand as I was examining a latrine! And these little animals provide food for so many other creatures.
The plan is to go back in the spring, when there are more field signs but before the vegetation's got too lush. Dr Joan Daniels was showing me before we set out how many ditches across the mosses have water voles in them; it's all very encouraging. If we can just keep the mink at bay.

Monday, 3 December 2007

More prints, more field voles

Some much clearer prints - I'm waiting for an ID - plus lots and lots of field vole activity. And this jolly fungus, which is called Candle-snuff, I think.
While I'm here:
Nice video clip here about our local heathland and the silver studded blue butterfly.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

The trolleys have gone from the brook at White Lion Meadow - maybe these new ones are considered too expensive to leave rotting in the water? - though the ten between Edgeley Road and Waylands Road are all still there.
Took a walk up to Yockings Gate and was surprised to see the high old bridge walls had been replaced by modern railings. They're not as picturesque, but they're way better for viewing the brook below (I used to have to take a folding stool to stand on!). If the colony's still there in the spring, I should be able to get some good sightings. Interesting to compare the state of the vegetation at this time of year with how it was in high summer. You can do this by clicking on the Yockings Gate label at the right hand side of the blog.
Going down tomorrow morning to check the Prees Branch canal rafts again, but John Mackintosh from the Shropshire Mammal recording group thinks the same as my friend from the Wild About Britain forum, that we're not dealing with mink yet. So cautiously good news all round.