Friday, 25 September 2009

Edward German Drive - good landowners

Baby water vole, taken by my friend James. More at his blog here:

Edwards German Drive - the side that's overhung by dense tree foliage

Edward German Drive -the side that's fairly clear and light (better for water voles)

Water vole droppings, Edward German Drive.

Fresh otter spraint under the bridge, Country Park.

Otter tracks (I think) emerging from the water under the bridge

Large adult water vole.

A hunt along the brook by Edward German drive shows water vole presence all along the stretch that joins Waylands Crescent - prints, feeding and droppings. I have once found a latrine down the other stretch, by Griffiths Tool Hire, but in general those banks are too shaded by householders' hedges for much to grow, so unsuitable for water voles. However, I was delighted when a man came out of one of the houses and asked me about pruning back the bushes at the end of his garden, so as to make it better for the voles.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Two voles

Two voles tonight, a large one and a smaller, darker one. The bigger vole didn't want to share the food, but there wasn't any serious scrapping such as goes on during mating time (I've seen the water 'boil' with fighting voles). So I think this might have been a parent and juvenile, especially as they both seemed to use the same burrow. Or perhaps some burrows are communal?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Vole after my bag!

Otter spraint under the bridge, Whitchurch Country Park

Spraint in close-up

The tempting bag sitting next to my stool ...

I've never experienced anything like it: heard a rustle at my feet, then a water vole pokes its head out of the brambles, sneaks up to my bag and starts trying to pull it down the bank! You can see from the picture how close it came to where I was sitting.
Later in the evening I went to the Country Park nature reserve and found three fresh otter spraints under the bridge.
A visit to Black Park Road on Tuesday, to check on the possible effects of the blue-green algae, was inconclusive. I couldn't find any latrines, but there was a bit of grazing. However, I did have a sighting of a water vole at White Lion Meadow, which is good news.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Still some feeding at White Lion Meadow

Definitely vole feeding. Water- or field-?
I'll be ringing the council about the blue-green algae business first thing Monday.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Water vole demonstrating good camouflage.

New otter spraint found tonight under the bridge in the Country Park

I'm trying to find out the implications of this sign that's gone up by the White Lion Meadow stretch of the brook. I have to say, it doesn't look good for the water voles, though I've seen rats and bank voles there within the last week. How easily does cyanobacteria spread? What can be done about it?
Update: I've spoken to the Environment Agency and the algae are coming from Blakemere, which is the source of the Staggsbrook, meaning the whole length of the water course will be affected, including Black Park Road, the stretch by the railway bridge near Homebase, the back of Wayland Road, Edward German Drive and the Whitchurch Country Park. If this algae does affect water voles, it's disastrous.
However, there was some positive news. Firstly, barley straw has been put down in the water at Blakemere, which should help purify the water. Secondly, the algae will disappear by itself when the warm weather passes (ie any day now). Thirdly, it's been there for a good few weeks, but I've still been seeing plenty of mammal activity all along the brook, so I don't think the consequences can be devastating. The concentrations are much lower further down the brook, in any case.
Still, I'll pop up to Black Park Road this evening and take a look at what's happening there.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A productive evening's voling

A fairly clear print at the bottom of the picture, and droppings at the top left side.

Latrine in the ditch near Grocontinental. Thanks goodness for a zoom lens as it was way too far down the bank for me to reach!

Feeding at Edward German Drive. There were several feeding stations, but I couldn't get them into focus as they were behind reeds.

The product of an hour's walk around three water vole haunts.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Making Good Use of the Things that we Find

Water voles seem to be fairly pragmatic about litter - as long as it doesn't pollute the water, or attract rats - and will often use objects that have been dumped in the water as a shelves for their latrines. In the middle picture you can see an old bucket that's been pressed into service in the same way as the tree branch next to it.
Now it's September, vole-spotting days are numbered, but I'm trying to get surveys in between the rain showers. Took the opportunity to have a poke about at White Lion Meadow, but although there's feeding on both sides of the bridge, it isn't definitively water-vole so I don't know for sure whether they're present on that site or not.