Monday, 30 April 2018

A Tale of Two Voles

 'Where is he? I want to go out but I don't want to leave my pups behind in the burrow.'

'Here I am. Sorry, love, I've been feasting on pollen for the protein.'

 'Right, I'm home.'

 'My turn to go out now!'

Some blocked-up burrows.

Apologies: I don't normally go in for anthropomorphism, but it seemed to me the narrative here was fairly clear. The first vole sat at the entrance to the burrow for 15 minutes but wouldn't leave to feed, which makes me think this is a female caring for pups. When the other vole arrived I expected a fight, but it slipped into the burrow quietly without fuss, so I'm assuming that was the male partner. Only then what I think was the first vole came out to feed. I'd thought that male voles went on their way once the female was impregnated, leaving her alone to raise the young, so this was interesting to watch. If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Special Moment

 Kestrel, hunting.

 Classic starry paw print.

 I witnessed a major spat between the brown vole above and the scruffier, greyer one below. Scruffy lost, and went to feed on roots at the far end of the ditch. Water voles are extremely territorial and often sustain injuries from fighting. They 'box' and bite.

I'd gone to check on another colony, and was photographing burrows when a small snout appeared just in front of me. We watched each other for about two minutes, before the vole went back inside.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Feeding and "Lawns"

 A water vole "lawn" - grazed grass outside a tunnel.

Feeding left by a latrine.

Cut glyceria leaves at Edgeley Road.

The characteristic 45 degree cut used by water voles.

Droppings at the wood yard.

A Marsh Tit!

Water vole starry paw prints in Greenfields

 A latrine in Greenfields, the Country Park

Swimming vole, White Lion Meadow.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Burrows Special!

 A bit of a 'lawn' outside this right-hand  burrow above.

 Water vole burrows are about the diameter of a Pringles tube. They are neat, no spoil heaps at the entrance, and usually fringed by nibbled grass. They are often very close together to give maximum chance of escape. Some entrances will be underwater, and some high up on the bank so the vole can deal with flooding and again escape more easily.

 Unusually long water vole droppings.

 Droppings and feeding together.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Vole Love Again

Above: @Clairey2112's amazing capture of mating water voles, something I've only seen once and never managed to photograph. Mating can be quite violent, as the male scruffs the female to hold her still. Assuming a pregnancy occurs, the pups will be born in 21-22 days' time and there'll be between 3 and 8 of them. They'll emerge from the burrow around four weeks later.

Below: a White Lion Meadow vole. There were two about last night, one down by the wood yard.

You can see more of @Clairey2112's stunning photos at Mrs Scattercushion's wildlife photos