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The diary of a water vole colony
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    Water courses can be cleared to minimise flood risk without harming water voles or their cover. The EA not only contacted the Whitchurch Water Vole Group prior to their work to check we thought it was OK for the voles, but sent us regular updates via social media. A friend of mine who lives locally says she saw even one of the men sitting reading a book about water voles during his break. 

    So many thanks to them, and to Green Horizons contractors. I went down last night and saw this vole above happily eating, and swimming up and down the newly-strimmed banks, still with plenty of cover to hide in.

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  • 09/30/18--03:29: White Lion Meadow Still Busy
  •  Climbing vole.

      Water vole prints, plus a single dropping.

     This water vole dived repeatedly to pull up orange roots.

     This photo shows how brown a water vole's fur can look. 






    I'm seeing a couple of voles at a time down at White Lion Meadow. They're very often to be found clambering around in the brambles and willow herb.

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    These are all White Lion Meadow voles seen this month. There are at least three individuals operating on this stretch, all busily eating to pile on the weight for winter. I don't suppose they'll be visible for long now: soon they'll retire below ground to wait out the colder weather.

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  • 10/25/18--11:03: Closing Up for the Winter
  •  Small copper.

     Common red darter.

     Two well-camouflaged common newts.



    I haven't seen a water vole for a couple of weeks now, so I'm assuming they've taken themselves underground in the main, ready for the colder weather. This is the time sightings usually stop, although I have occasionally seen them in November. I'd hope next year's sightings to be starting around mid-February or March. However, you can still see their little starry pawprints down at White Lion Meadow (the car park by Tesco), so there must be some above-ground activity.

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  • 02/10/19--03:56: Any Day Now...


  • It's felt like a long winter. Now it's February, I'm watching out at White Lion Meadow especially because this is where I often get my first water vole sighting of the year, and I notice this burrow has appeared under the bridge...

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  • 02/24/19--07:50: No Sightings Yet, But...
  • Common Lizard at Wem Moss

    Yellowhammer, Prees Heath

    Below, starry water vole footprints at White Lion Meadow.





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  • 02/25/19--10:45: Article 1

  • And here's the first vole of 2019, at White Lion Meadow.

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  • 03/01/19--09:39: For Anne



  • Today this blog remembers the very wonderful Anne Monie and all she did for voles, and all the kind and generous things she did for the community. Very much missed. 


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  • 03/09/19--09:03: Article 0





  • This vole is eating spiny bramble stalks, apparently without any difficulty.

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  • 03/10/19--10:26: Small Adult




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  • 03/20/19--10:41: Vernal Equinox
  •  Finally, frogspawn!

    Below: some subtle signs of water vole presence at the Timber Yard.





     Below: lots of burrows at Edward German Drive an unusually long way away from the water course.










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  • 03/26/19--11:44: Sightings coming slowly





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    About this time of year, water voles enjoy catkins laden with pollen; I think this is for the protein they offer. This vole at the bottom seems to have a particularly dense and fuzzy coat suggesting it's in good condition and ready for breeding.


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  • 04/05/19--11:34: Article 0




  • grey wagtail

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  • 04/06/19--11:47: First Latrines Appearing!
  •  White Lion Meadow (Tesco) vole



    Burrows at Edgeley Road, with grazing.






    Droppings appearing at Edgeley Road.

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     Otter spraint at Wrenbury.


    First Edgeley Road water vole of the year.

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  • 04/11/19--11:45: The Practised Eye






  •  characteristically starry paw prints


    With a bit of practice you can quickly spot where the voles have been, even if you don't see the animals themselves. Stretches of mud are good for starry prints, and flat rocks and bits of rubbish good places for droppings. Look out too for reeds chewed off at the base, at a 45 degree angle.

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  • 04/15/19--12:03: Busy-ness at Edgeley Road



  •  chiffchaff






     Barn owl egg? There are barn owls in this field.







    Two water voles tonight at Edgeley Road, plus a selection of burrows and droppings.

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  • 04/16/19--12:09: Fur




  • Water voles have water-repellent fur which is supposed to dry immediately with a good shake. I guess this one just hasn't read the handbook.

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  • 04/20/19--03:43: Survey Work









  • We did a routine survey of the Greenfields nature reserve, Whitchurch Country Park, and found stacks of water vole burrows, plenty of feeding especially on nettles, plenty of droppings and tracks. It looks as thought the population there continues strong and healthy.

    Meanwhile the water voles down Edgeley Road are active. I saw three last night, two of whom had a bit of a spat over possession of a burrow.

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  • 04/22/19--11:42: Moss Field


  •  Two sparrowhawks that visited my garden today.






    Moss Field is behind the Saddler's Walk estate, land that's soon to be developed, so we need to keep our eye on that. The ditch, which is L-shaped, maintains a steady population of water voles even when the water dries up, and happens some years. It's hard to get to once the vegetation has grown up, so it's good to get a survey in now. All the key field signs are in place that mean definite (and busy) water vole presence.


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     Is there a white spot on this vole's forehead?

     Escape chute



     latrines






    I saw three different voles at Edgeley Road tonight, including a very large and dark one. However, the vole which excited me the most was the one at the top of the page which seems to have a little area of white hairs on its forehead. Could it be one of the litter of "spots" grown up? 2018 spotty voles

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  • 04/23/19--12:00: A Round-up of Some Sites

  • Water vole signs at the Railwayman's Cottage (near Homebase)

    Below, Black Park Road and water vole signs there.




     And lastly, these signs below are at the ditch in Broughall. 


    buzzard

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  • 04/23/19--12:14: Training Surveyors






  • I had the pleasure of meeting someone from Cheshire Wildlife Trust today to give them some in-the-field experience of assessing water vole habitat and occupation. We looked at two sites and examined burrows, droppings, latrines, feeding and feeding stations - and we actually saw a vole too. I am always happy to take out individuals or small groups, whether it's enthusiastic amateurs, volunteers or professional ecologists. I've worked for the Field Studies Council and for the Wildlife Trust and I have hundreds of hours' experience. Please do contact me via Twitter or Facebook if you'd like some practical training.