15
May-2014

Water voles as you’ve never seen them before –  one exciting part of a year-long project exploring & studying UK Wild Wonders with school children that live nearby.

Just a short walk from Kingswood Primary School is a very special water vole habitat – a popular walk for local people, but many are unaware of their rare riverbank neighbours. In the UK, the water vole population has declined by an incredible 90% in 40 years. With such special wildlife on their doorstep the school were keen for the children to study the voles,  their habitat, food plants, conservation issues and how to protect them.  On the first day of field study we set off to the river with 50 children in smaller groups. The reality was that we might not see any voles. Quite the contrary, we all observed & learnt so much. Just the start of the school study – here is a taster (& teaser) of their observations!

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Water Voles like to eat the plant Meadowsweet.

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And they eat cleavers too! Did you know that?

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Grass!

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Using cameras (SLR & compact) and sketch paper, the children recorded the river environment and nature they saw.

“Thank you for taking us to the riverbank. I saw a watervole for the first time ever. It was a very special experience”

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The children spotted Beautiful demoiselles – that is its name!

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And they saw Meadow buttercups – as a vole would see them of course.  Then something quite unexpected happened!

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Two water voles, locked together, floated down the river towards us. Only when 2 metres away did they separate and swim to the bank to continue their agitated interaction. All this was caught on camera by two of the children. In 8 yrs watching voles I have never seen this behaviour. So much wild inspiration – I’m looking forward to watching this project grow. The images and study will become part of both a local community exhibition and larger UK event. Thanks to all the children, staff & volunteers for making this such a successful start to the study. All photos by children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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