Water voles don't truly hibernate, but this blog sort of does. While the voles are underground and feeding on roots and snoozing, I don't post much. But Radio 4 Extra are re-running Tom Moorhouse's wonderful fiction book, 'The River Singers', and as part of that feature there's an interview with me and my voles at 2 minutes 30 seconds in.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Very small smooth newt from our garden
Probably water vole prints (though could be rat)
Water vole droppings, and below, a burrow plus trackway
I think this is weasel scat
Not much vole activity now it's autumn, but on the plus side our garden is busy with hedgehogs including this family of five. Mum quite often comes and feeds separately, but in the bottom video she is being harassed by two of her four young (who are old enough to know better).
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
What a fantastic surprise to see these two otters on the trail cam. I've never seen an otter in the wild; this is the closest I've ever got. It's amazing that they would use such a tiny ditch. But then the field's full of wildlife, and I have found spraint there twice before. Thrilled!
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Edgeley Road vole
Droppings in the ditch near Railwayman's Cottage (by Homebase)
Droppings at Edward German Drive
Otter spraint and prints at Whitchurch Country Park (Greenfields)
Nice mural by the canal!
I never see much after October, so these may be the last vole photos of 2014. However, the colonies mostly appear to be holding their own. There's some activity at Edward German Drive (though perhaps not as much as in previous years), while the voles at Railwayman's Cottage are thriving. I'm afraid I can't tell what's happening at the country park as the vegetation's so thick I can't get near the banks. There's good otter presence, though, so fingers crossed the voles are also doing OK.
Meanwhile a big cheer is in order for the Environment Agency who have done a detailed study of the Staggs Brook as it goes through town so that they can manage the banks for flood risk without in any way harming the water voles. It's a brilliant effort. I'd say the signs are hopeful for Spring 2015.
Friday, 5 September 2014
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Droppings at Broughall
Edgeley Road vole
Three sets of droppings from Edgeley Road
Feeding and droppings at Mossfields (Saddler's Walk).
Latrine under the bridge by the car park at White Lion Meadow (near Tesco)
Sightings are hard to come by now, as the population disperses, but the field signs show a presence on many sites. The colony at Mossfields (Saddler's Walk) seems steady - this will need a special eye keeping on it when the land is developed for houses. Broughall is busy with voles and I'm not surprised as the habitat there is excellent. And though numbers are a little lower than last year, the voles at Edgeley Road seem fine too. As usual there is activity in the ditch at White Lion Meadow.
New sites logged this year include Ash Grange, Mile Bank and the Llangollen canal between Ellesmere and Whittington. In addition, it's been good to get a sighting at Yocking's Gate after a long absence of records.
On the down side, the voles seem to have gone from the Prees Branch canal; I can only assume mink predation's the problem there. A great shame as it was an excellent, strong colony. Similarly the ditch by Grocontinental has suffered disruption by building work this year and at least some of the habitat there has been deserted. I hope they return in 2015.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Saturday, 9 August 2014
Monday, 4 August 2014
Saturday, 2 August 2014
In spite of the photos above, I've been concerned this last week that there has been a drop in water vole numbers at one particular site, and in fact I've had three days where I've seen nothing at all. I haven't spotted any sign of mink but there is quite a lot of stoat scat about, and I've had a couple of trail cam clips. So as soon as this rain stops, I'll go back out and have a really good look to try and work out what's going on. Stoats are native predators, therefore they shouldn't be a problem, but I suppose if there's been a big enough explosion in the population this year then that might have reduced water vole numbers severely.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Here's the only half-decent footage I've managed to capture of a water shrew. Blink and you'll miss it.
The hedgehog clip is a poser, as it turns out I've mis-labelled what's going on. What I thought was the small hog's mother was in fact attempting to mount the little hog, so I can only assume this is a very small or juvenile sow being courted by a large adult boar. How old is she? How old do females have to be to start breeding?