New water vole colony found in the Meres and Mosses

At the end of September, staff and volunteers from the Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership Scheme and the Environment Agency joined forces to survey an area of farmland near Ellesmere for signs of water voles. Water voles can be elusive but like many other mammals, leave field signs that they are around. It is these signs which are used to indicate their presence along suitable stretches of water way, including canals, small rivers and agricultural drainage ditches. It is because there is a lack of suitable undisturbed habitat in the UK that these enigmatic mammals have declined so dramatically, along with other factors such as increased predation. But the Meres and Mosses holds a mosaic of ideal patches for water voles to call home and new colonies are still being discovered.

At Newnes Brook, signs of a water vole colony were recorded along a 200 metre section of ditch. Field signs include burrows, which are much larger than the holes of the water vole's smaller cousins; bank and field voles and can be up to 3 inches in diameter. Other signs recorded at the site included latrines and feeding stations. With the new evidence of water vole presence here, the next step is to monitor the number of individuals inhabiting the brook, by using camera traps and footprint plates.

 


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95% of UK wetlands have vanished over the last 300 years due to drainage and pressures of land use


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