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.
I came across this collapsed-looking water vole chamber, but I don't think it had just fallen in naturally because we've had no rain lately, and also some of the bedding had been pulled out. So my guess is digging badgers, or dogs. There were fresh vole droppings inside, though, so there are clearly voles still using the burrow system.
Delighted to see close up this adult water vole with a white spot on its head. I can only assume this is the grown-up baby I saw a few weeks ago. It's not often you can recognise individuals!
A water vole survey today on the Moss turned up no actual water voles, but we did see lots of sundews, an adder skin, a Large Skipper butterfly, a Tiger Moth and a water scorpion. The voles pictured above are from Edgeley Road.
I'm seeing lots and lots of voles at the moment. Breeding's supposed to peak in May and then again towards September, so I expect these babies I'm seeing are the result of that first peak. In the two bottom photos, the adult's been grooming and spreading musk from the glands on her flanks, which is why the fur there's disturbed.
This blog charts the fortunes of water voles in and around the Whitchurch area, North Shropshire. Water voles are one of the UK's most threatened mammals, extinct in many counties, and so it's vital they receive as much monitoring and protection as there is going. Here in Whitchurch we're lucky enough to have them right in the middle of town - how cool is that?