Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Same time, same place

Going on Dave's tip yesterday, I took myself down to the timber yard and almost straight away saw this water vole. It looked like a pregnant female to me, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

Monday, 30 March 2009

First Definite Sighting of 2009!

My friend Dave sent me this, taken at 3pm today. I am SO happy the voles are back!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Endless latrines, but nothing at White Lion Meadow

A water vole dropping against a 1p piece, for scale

Refreshed latrine outside the timber yard

Latrine on the Prees Branch Canal

Latrine under the bridge on Greenfields Rise, outside the Country Park

Droppings under the bridge near Homebase

I've come to the conclusion there are no water voles at present in the car park stretch of White Lion Meadow. This isn't especially significant: colonies do move about, up and down waterways, and if there's a breeding female outside the timber yard as the refreshed latrine suggests, then I'm sure there'll be voles back under the swimming pool stretch before too long (not least because they can't extend in the other direction due to a massive culvert).
Meanwhile there's clearly activity elsewhere, despite the lack of sightings.

Monday, 23 March 2009

The frogs in our pond getting into a bit of a frenzy.

Friday, 20 March 2009

First sighting?

Latrine ouside the timber merchant's

Droppings under the railway bridge near Homebase, Waylands Road side

Droppings under the railway bridge near Homebase, station side

I met a man on the White Lion car park yesterday who said he thought he'd seen a water vole down on the far stretch of the brook, by the timber yard. He didn't seem especially sure, though, so I was wondering whether it might have been a rat he glimpsed. But then my friend Dave emailed me to say he'd spotted water vole droppings in the middle of this section, on top of a load of dumped newspaper. It's a pretty grotty area, full of litter, but it's quieter than the car park end and possibly gets less food thrown into it, which means less trouble with rats.
So I hope soon to be posting pictures of actual voles, instead of endless close-ups of poo!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Late or absent?

Comma butterfly at the railway bridge near Homebase

Frog gearing up to mate in our pond

Water vole latrine in the ditch by Grocontinental

Feeding (definitely not field vole!) at the Prees Branch Canal

Droppings at the railway bridge near Homebase

Latrine at White Lion Meadow - but is it water vole?
Everything seems to be emerging, apart from the voles. I'm beginning to wonder whether there are any at White Lion Meadow this year: in 2008 they made their appearance in February, and in 2007 it was March 1st. It's true the weather's been colder, but even so I thought I might have had a sighting by now.
Meanwhile Lorcan's developed his Whitchurch Pate so it has a wick and can draw up moisture from the mud below to keep the top layer of clay nice and soft. I've found that the version with the oasis under the clay lasts fine, for a fortnight at least, if you wrap it well with cling film.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

More on the Whitchurch Plate

Droppings under the bridge near Homebase
Possible feeding station at White Lion Meadow.
I've still had no sightings of voles at White Lion Meadow car park, though there are droppings and what's probably a feeding station (above) so I have to assume they're around. It's been bitterly cold here so perhaps breeding's delayed this year.
We tried out the tweaked version of the tracking plate - now made of plastic, cable-tied to the metal frame and with sodden oasis under the clay - at Steel Heath, and got a surprising result (top photo). Are the footprints rat or water vole? And why hasn't the apple been eaten? The plate was left for 24 hours in a quiet ditch, so I have no idea why the bait didn't go.