With the arrival of warmer weather, I’ve been treated to some gorgeous views of my local water voles in recent days. Early spring is an apprehensive time, when I discover how the voles fared over the winter. Though they don’t hibernate, the voles are much less visible in winter and the population will greatly reduce through predation and poorer feeding. This year the high river levels have been an added disturbance. Thankfully the water level is starting to drop, uncovering fresh feeding spots and encouraging plenty of vole activity on the riverbank. Now I can relax and look forward to a spring of wonderful water voles.
Celandine flowers are a favourite early spring food for the voles
The sharp claws and teeth enable the voles to tunnel through the riverbank at 4 metres per hr* ( *I watched a vole dig a 30cm long burrow in under 5 minutes)
Unless crossing to the opposite bank water voles swim along the river edge, where the current is weaker and its easier to escape predators by diving or disappearing into a hole.
Emerging from a secret underwater entrance to the burrow
A water-level entrance.
The distinctive ‘plop’ of a vole disappearing into the water. Leaving behind a freshly deposited latrine – the site where females mark their territories.
Over the next few months I’ll be busy watching the voles and of course the other river residents such as breeding dipper and kingfisher. Introducing them to people from all over the country I’m have visiting water vole experts, a film crew, school groups and public events with the Wildlife Trusts and Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). If you fancy joining me for some wonderful water vole watching and river wildlife photography, here are dates of my upcoming events. I can also arrange bespoke sessions.
- 28th April – Water Voles & Bluebells day with Gloucestershire Widlife Trust
- 29th April – Water Voles & River Wildlife Safari with PTES
- 27th April & 20th May – Water Vole & River Wildlife