Saturday, 31 May 2014

Time to review Water Vole Buffer Zones?

 Baby voles

 Latrine on grass


I was surprised to find a large feeding station 80 metres from the stream, almost over the other side of the field. That is far, far above the 5-10m buffer zone required by planning regulations, and even more than the 15-20m suggested by wildlife trusts to protect habitat from building development work. I'm fairly sure the photo above does show water vole feeding and not field vole, given the scale and thickness of the plant stems. Time to review the regs?

A nice sighting at the main town car park this lunchtime; that colony keeps on going!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Three Vole Videos

It's the one-eyed vole and (I think) one of her offspring. Turn up the speakers to hear the squeaks.

The Dairy Voles at Mile Bank, and the Importance of Brownfield Sites

 The wetland area by the old dairy at Mile Bank

 Water vole droppings in this area

 Great Crested Newts


 Smooth Newt

 Four photos showing rubbish under which the Great Crested Newts were hiding.

 Baby smooth newts

This site at Mile Bank is up for a big housing development, so the builders had better be extremely careful to stay within the law. Not only are there Great Crested Newts on site, but water voles as well, both of them fully protected species. It is a terrific wetland area so I presume the developers as part of their mitigation measures will be creating replacement habitat elsewhere, or preserving these marshy sections and incorporating them into the new estate.

Milk and Plain Chocolate

It doesn't often come out in my photos, I don't think, but there's a real difference between baby water voles just out of the nest, and older juveniles/adults. Babies are really quite a dark brown - 70% cocoa solids, I'd say, if you're using chocolate as an indicator. That's how you distinguish them from field voles and bank voles. But older animals are paler-coated, more like a mix of milk and plain chocolate. The photos above show four different young voles, which is reassuring after the heavy rain which can drown new and inexperienced swimmers.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Two Babies, and Activity at Mossfields

This video's a bit special because it's the first footage I've ever got of the water voles who live round the back of Saddler's Walk (Mossfields), near the cricket pitch. I know there's a strong colony there but the vegetation's so thick it's hard to see much. I'm really hoping the council and builders are going to take special care when they develop this land to build a new school and housing. I'll remind them nearer the time how water voles are legally protected, and the mitigation measures that have to be in place before work can start.

Friday, 16 May 2014

First Baby of the Year!

I almost wonder whether this is the offspring of the one-eyed female I've been watching.

 More underwater droppings.

Feeding stations at Mossfields (back of Saddler's Walk).

Thursday, 15 May 2014

To the Tune of Van Morrison's 'Brown-Eyed Girl'

I found out a couple of things about my one-eyed vole tonight: firstly, I'm guessing she is female as I saw her topping up a large latrine. Males do make latrines, but not so many and only small ones.

And secondly, she is queen of the castle. She ran off another two-eyed vole with ease, and the intruder was almost deferential. 

A total of four water voles appeared during this session.