Sunday, 13 August 2017

One of Those Days

 Possibly a September Thorn moth.

Below: a variety of common lizards basking at Llanymynech Rocks this morning.

So much of wildlife-watching is waiting, and often failing to see what you went to look for. But today began with two new-to-me species of moth, a Bulrush Wainscot and a Common Wainscot, plus this characterful Thorn. Mid-morning a trip to Llanymynech Rocks revealed a dozen or so lizards happy to pose while I photographed them. I was very taken with the variety of colours they come in. The air was full of butterflies, especially Common Blues and Small Coppers. Then this evening, a water vole, very close and bold (until I moved!).

Some days are magical.

Monday, 7 August 2017

How to Detect Invisible Voles

Below: plenty of water vole droppings.

A burrow that's clearly occupied.

As I've said, this time of year the voles go suddenly very shy; I don't know if it's to do with populations thinning out as young disperse, but it happens almost overnight and, for the dedicated vole-watcher, it's unnerving. When you were used to seeing several voles a day and then you're down to nothing, how do you know they haven't all packed up and gone, or been wiped out?

Because the signs are all still there. The daily fresh droppings, nibbled vegetation, the visibly-in-use burrows, the mysterious clouds of mud that bloom as a nervous vole shoots past under water. And there are plopping noises, and violent ripples, and sometimes the sound of roots being crunched under your feet. So it's a matter of keeping the faith, till their collective psyche becomes more confident again and you start getting sightings once more.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Water Voles

Introducing a shiny new information round-up on all matters water vole. Thank you, my dear friend Jo, for all the amazing conservation work you do!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Sudden Drop

There's been a change in activity at the Edgeley Road site. Sightings are suddenly scarcer, and the voles less confident about showing themselves, though I know they're about because the're still leaving field signs. I hope it's just the usual pattern of population-peak-and-dispersal that happens every year. Normally I see it in August, so it's earlier than I'd have expected.

Monday, 17 July 2017


Adult water voles, like hamsters, just aren't comfortable being near each other.  A big spat ensued after I snapped this photo.

At White Lion Meadow: tell-tale feeding sign.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Smallest Vole EVER

I was down at the town car park, looking at the feeding signs and droppings that told me water voles were still very much present - even though it's hard to see much through the undergrowth. Suddenly the tiniest vole I've ever seen in ten years of watching swam past. It was only the length of a small mouse; in fact when it sat down to eat, its size and shape put me in mind of a furry Brussels sprout. As you can see from the photo, it was small enough to sit on a glyceria leaf! 

There were also two adults about, so this stretch of the brook is clearly as busy as ever.