Thursday, 24 January 2013

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch

Very pleased to read this nice letter in BBC Wildlife Magazine about my water vole article in November's issue.

Also delighted to be interviewed for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch podcast. Click to hear me talk about why teenagers and wildlife are a great mix.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

EarthLines magazine

There's a lovely feature in this gorgeous environmental magazine based on Hugh Wawick's book, The Beauty in the Beast.

The piece talks about how certain animals ignite a passion for nature, and as with the book, I'm listed for my vole-obsession. Hugh kindly calls About A Brook "one of the most exciting blogs on the internet" - despite its very niche remit! He also recounts the story of how my interest in water voles first came about: that as an 8 year old on holiday with my parents, we spotted a water vole as we crossed a bridge between a car park and a shopping centre. We watched the animal for five minutes, then my mother said we had to go. I flat-refused, and in the end they went off and left me for half an hour to ogle this vole. It really was love at first sight.

EarthLines magazine itself is gorgeous and I can't help thinking a subscription would make a brilliant gift for any wildlife enthusiast. Check it out here:

To read more of Hugh's work, you can visit his own hedgehog blog here:

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sighting already!

Photo of a diving vole from 2011

I was on the main town car park by Tesco when I glanced into the Staggsbrook and saw a chunky rodent swimming upstream. At first I thought it was probably a rat, but as I stood and watched, it suddenly dived out of sight which is typical water vole behaviour. I also think a rat would tend to swim across water to make the shortest journey rather than along the water course, and run out onto the bank to escape rather than dive below the surface.

I know there are voles about here because two posts back I photographed their prints. So this is a first for me because I have never seen a water vole as early as January before!

Friday, 4 January 2013

And into 2013 with signs already

What we have here is pretty much the full set of main field signs for water voles: feeding, prints, active burrows and droppings. The droppings are the most important as they're fairly definitive - burrows and prints can be confused with rats', and sometimes field vole feeding looks like water vole. But in the top photo this is definitely w-v because of the scale.

All these I found in the field off Edgeley Road, a colony I'd been dreading visiting because of the flooding. What was clear was that low-sided stretches of the brook here had been swamped and deserted by voles - there was just nowhere for them to go as the levels rose - but other stretches with higher sides looked to have survived OK. Upsetting to find some contamination by diesel to add to the disruption, but it didn't seem to have spread too far.

This is a really soggy field, like a big sponge that soaks up a lot of water during heavy rain. Lord help us if the council ever decide to build on it, because wherever will this water go?