Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Water Repellent Fur

Water voles in some ways aren't especially adapted to an aquatic life, in that they drown pretty easily in floods and they don't have webbed feet to make them stronger swimmers. But they do have fur that dries the second they shake it.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Does my bum look big in this?

Nice rear shot above of the rounded rump of a water vole, and its dark brown tail. Rats' tails are pinky-grey in colour. This is also the vole with the slight fur loss round her left eye. I don't think it can be mange as it hasn't got any worse for weeks.

Top photo is another, slightly lighter-coloured vole. I saw three different water voles this evening.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Fur Colour: Water Voles versus Field Voles

Lots of little animals readily swim, and here's a field vole crossing from one bank to another. It's exactly the same size and shape as a baby water vole. But the colour of the fur's the giveaway: the field vole directly above is significantly lighter brown than the water vole in the top picture.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

New Camera, hooray!

There's been less activity in the ditch by Grocontinental since the diesel discharge, but I was pleased to see lots of feeding stations at the Edgeley Road end, plus a brief sighting of an actual water vole. I need to go further up, into the stretch by the lorry yard, and see what's going on there.
The vole above's one of the ones in the field near my house.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Baby vole: the video

I'm guessing this animal is 3-4 weeks old.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


...and an adult.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Hooray for the Country Park

Female vole, I think, attending her latrine (off Edgeley Road).

The vole at Greenfields.

Water vole feeding signs.

Amazing encounter with a water vole last night: I'd taken my son to Greenfields Nature Reserve (Whitchurch Country Park) to see if he could catch some stickleback. While he was getting his net ready, I had a quick look at the banks and saw straight away some nibbled vegetation that looked water-voley, and then I found a feeding station. Well pleased, I led him down under the concrete bridge to do some fishing.

We'd only been there five minutes when a large vole shot out of the water right by our feet - see photo above - ran along the bank and then swam around coolly for a while before disappearing off downstream. At exactly the same time, a common shrew dashed along the ledge opposite.

This is all very good news as last year mink cleaned out this colony, and this particular bridge was marked by lots of mink scat. I really hope we can keep the mink from coming in off the canal this summer.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Water Shrew

Best shots I could manage, I'm afraid. If you put the video on on 'full screen' by double clicking on it, and then focus on the corner of the bank in the middle of the shot, the shrew swims underwater diagonally towards the right hand margin. It looks like a light-coloured, mouse-shaped blur. After a few seconds' pause, ripples show it zooming off up the stream.


A word about using bait: if you do pop down a bit of apple to make your voles pause and pose and that apple doesn't get eaten, don't leave it out when you go. Drop it down a burrow, or take it home with you and bin it. Leaving out food, especially in an exposed spot, might mean the voles get predated, or it might encourage rats. In fact if you're feeding any wild animal, always clear up the excess.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I'd say you could see water voles any time of day or night, but I just popped down to the field now - 8pm, coming up to dusk - and it was very busy indeed. Three sightings in the fifteen minutes I was there.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Litter Picker

Vole eats picker.

Two latrines.

Essential to any voling kit is some sort of long stick - it will help you climb up and down steep banks, and part grass so you can look for trackways and burrows. Lots of people use broom handles for the purpose because they're sturdy, but I like a litter picker because I can use it to pick up small pieces of vegetation to check for vole-cut ends, or to pluck grass out of the line of my camera's vision.

Today I used it to deposit a small piece of apple on a sandbank, then laid it next to me on the grass. Within twenty minutes a water vole pushed its nose out of a burrow right by the litter picker's business end, and proceeded to bite the plastic prongs. Then it optimistically tried to drag the picker into the burrow. I can only assume this is because it could smell the apple still.

I've had water voles try and take my bag in the past, but never one quite so ambitious in its thievery.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Individual Voles

I was hugely impressed by the lady on Springwatch two nights ago who could identify specific adders on her local reserve by their skin patterns. Voles have no such individual quirks, coat-wise. Except there are times I can ID a particular animal by its injuries - w-vs often pick up scars through fighting, and sometimes they get ticks, and very occasionally they have a patch of white on their fur as with 'Spot' a few years back.
This adult female above has a a little fur loss round her eye which makes it look whiter than usual, so I can recognise her from day to day.