Friday, 29 April 2011

Encouraging News from the Country Park

Enormous vole in the field off Edgeley Road.

Latrine just outside Greenfields Nature Reserve.

Reed bunting spotted at Whixall Moss this afternoon.

Metal bridge near Grocontintental's lorry park - very busy area for water voles this year.

Burrows in amongst the wire netting.

New latrine near where last week the diesel pooling was worst.

Water vole prints further along the ditch by Grocontinental.

The diesel released into the ditch by Grocontinental has almost dispersed and there are still latrines and burrows all the way up, which is a relief. Thanks to the Environment Agency for their help here. Interestingly, the burrows up near the metal bridge - right next to Grocontinental's lorry park - are constructed under wire netting but it doesn't seem to be any sort of impediment to the voles.

Another piece of good news is this latrine (second photo down) found in the Staggs Brook as it comes out of Whitchurch Country Park/Greenfields Nature Reserve. This colony seemed to be cleaned out last year by mink, so it's brilliant to know there's at least one female back in the area. You'd expect the population to refill from this end, Greenfields Rise direction, ie furthest away from the canal where the mink made their entry. There are still no water vole signs actually in the Park itself, and ironically the bend where I found the latrine is on a stretch of habitat that's yet again under threat from developers.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Postcard from Scotland

Hares near Wamphray

Goldfinch and chaffinch


From a ditch in the same field where the hares were: spraint which I thought was mink, but on closer inspection turned out to be otter.

Plus add in a Daubenton's bat flying above the boating lake in Moffat Park on Thursday afternoon (didn't have my camera with me then).

Sunday, 17 April 2011


Debbie's voles, from the Staggs Brook as it goes under the railway bridge near Homebase. This sighting is especially heartening as two years ago, after a good start to the year, this colony had mysteriously disappeared by late summer.

Vole-feeding at the back of Wayland Road.

Water vole latrine at the back of Wayland Road.

A less happy sight.

Discovered diesel coming into the ditch by Grocontinental, from out of a pipe under the lorry park. I've asked the Environment Agency to have a look as it's pooling round near a lot of water vole burrows/feeding/latrines. I imagine the voles will have to vacate the area till the oil disperses - hope they haven't got young in the burrows already. It may even mean voles are poisoned, I'm not sure. Any water contamination you spot should be reported immediately via the EA's 24 hour incident helpline (see link on right).

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Rat and Water Vole Burrows

Latrine right near the field entrance - obviously the voles are extending their territories.

Literally dozens of burrows now in the field off Edgeley Road. They are so neat they look as if they've been machine-cut, and it's easy to tell they're in use because of the nibbled grass round the edges and the clear entrance ways (old burrows tend to clog up with leaves and rubbish). Rat burrows, though a similar size, are not as tidy and tend to have heaps of soil outside.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Better Shrew Photos

Coincidentally a friend of mine found a freshly dead water shrew out at Whixall, so here are some photos showing the animal detail. Note the silvery sheen on the dark fur in photo one, and typically pale ventral area also.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sometimes A Photo Just Comes Together

Lovely compliant peacock

Twilight rat - note the large sticking-up ears and the grey rather than brown fur.

Had a nice water vole sighting down at White Lion Meadow last night, but also spotted two rats, which I've reported to the excellent pest control officer at the council (a man who knows his voles). Fingers crossed the rats don't drive the voles away from this site, as seems to have happened in previous years.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Water Shrew!

I appreciate it's the most rubbishy shot ever, but it does just about show the silvery shrew moving about below the surface, its tail and its back legs (you're looking at the blur in the very middle of the picture). Water shrews are dark-furred, but the bubbles trapped in their coat as they dive make them look light when viewed from above. The second photo shows location: by the railway bridge near Homebase. There are also water vole latrines and a feeding station on the left bank this evening.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sharp Eyes Needed

Plum blossom

Above and below: feeding and prints from across Grocontinental's lorry park.

Burrows, feeding and droppings all around this bridge.

Above and below: can you spot the poo? Click to enlarge the photo.

You really do need to look carefully sometimes to spot water vole signs. Having a camera with good optical zoom can help you pick out details on a far bank or the bottom of a too-steep-to-climb ditch. But these signs above show w-v presence along the whole length of the ditch in the field by Grocontinental, from Edgeley Road right up to the first metal bridge, and then over the lorry park into the stretch there.

Friday, 1 April 2011

First Sighting of 2011 at White Lion Meadow

Useless photo, but I post it because it's a nice positive landmark when the water voles come back to the main town car park. A sighting too off Edgeley Road, later on.