Saturday, 29 June 2019

In My Pocket

     Water voles at Edgeley Road. The pollution is looking very slightly better. I tried scoop out the worst on this section tonight. 
The vole in photos 2 and 3 tried to get into my pocket to see what was in there.

Below: water voles are using the barrier that's been thrown into the channel to place their latrines.

Some lizards at Pant, near Owestry.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Very Upsetting Levels of Pollution at Edgeley Road

After an absence of three weeks, I went down to check on the colony of voles at Edgeley Road, only to find this shocking state of pollution. The water is so thickly choked with scum, water voles are able to walk right across the surface and lay down droppings. Not being able to break into the water must be impacting on their ability to escape predators, surely.

As soon as I'd seen the state of the brook, I rang the 24-hour Environment Agency emergency hotline and reported the pollution and someone got onto it straight away. Turns out they've been dealing with the source for two weeks now - which is good in that they're already sure of the cause and are speaking to the landowner about it - but I'm wondering how long it will take for the hideous stuff to disappear and the water to clear.

Against all the odds I had quite a few sightings this evening: at least four voles, two of them adults and two juveniles. This is our strongest colony in Whitchurch, so it's vital they're protected. Otters also use this stretch. I really hope the EA speak to the people responsible in the strongest terms.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Amazing Photos from Paul Watts

Paul Watts captured this amazing picture of a water vole swimming with a baby in her mouth, presumably moving it to a safer place. He very kindly said I could sgare it on my blog.

Below, a water vole from Edward German Drive.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Water vole well up a bramble bush. Can you see it?

Below, tons of droppings at the Wood Yard, White Lion Meadow and Edward German Drive.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Reporting Safe After the Rain

I was worried about the voles because of the heavy rain we've had here. Little ones and even adults can get swept away and drown. However, this evening - the first I've been out for days - I went down to the car park and saw that on the barrier that's been thrown in by vandals, the voles had left a message to say they were OK. Then I walked down to the Timber Yard and saw one straight away. I don't know about the babies under the willow tree; mum was there but I didn't spot any of her offspring. I'll keep watching.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A New Behaviour? Water Vole Eating an Insect

Above: two baby water voles from the same litter. Below, the mum.

Iain Green's capture of a water vole eating a stickleback.

I could see one of the baby voles was making a hearty meal of something, but it wasn't till I got back home and examined the photos closely that I realised it was eating a hoverfly or wasp. I was amazed! I've never seen this behaviour before. Water vole expert Derek Gow says there are Victorian records of water voles feeding on insects, and Iain Green once saw an adult vole eating a fish (I reproduce that picture with permission). In S A Ryder's book, there's a note about observing a pregnant female vole eat a dead perch, for the protein. But I imagine its quite rare behaviour. My guess is that the baby found the fly or wasp already dead and just 'had a go'.

Monday, 3 June 2019

A Bit of an Explosion

Large male hedgehog in our garden two nights ago. I brought him in to check him for ticks and wounds but he seemed fine, and he was back again last night.

 Mum vole keeping watch on her three (or more) babies who are just out of the nest.

 Really big adult. I suspect this is a male.

Mum and baby again.

Small adult, so probably born early this year.

I'm delighted to report a modest water vole population explosion at the car park near Tesco. I saw at least four adults this evening, and at least three very small babies who probably only a week or so out of the nest. There are relatively few predators by the car park as it's so busy, so these babies have a better chance than most of surviving into adulthood.