Thursday, September 24, 2009

Duck End Nature Reserve, Maulden

This afternoon, Sue Raven and I joined our BNHS Mammal Recorder, Richard Lawrence, in a Water Vole survey at Duck End Nature Reserve.

At Pond 1 were were encouraged to find these lengths of grass leaves under some vegetation. Water Voles & the much smaller Field Vole both make these little piles. Field Voles are more likely to be found in the meadow area and Galler's Pasture next to the main reserve, but they will travel and use areas like this, so we needed more evidence.

This looked really promising - some nice lengths of plant material found in some vegetation at the side of the Pond 4 boardwalk. Surely not Field Vole - we needed some droppings to confirm the presence of Water Voles.

Then things really got exciting as we discovered a run next to the water with lots of grass piled up in equal lengths...we just needed some droppings to confirm Water Vole and congratulate one another....

And, yes, there were some droppings further down the run...but they were too small for Water Vole. Well, at least we've confirmed Field Vole!

This looked promising at Pond 2...right next to the water...but it was too big and not fibrous enough....Muntjac!

At Pond 3, we found this run with puddled droppings...classic Water Vole, except the droppings were too small again! This must be a Field Vole having fun with us!!

After Richard & Sue had gone, I went back to Pond 4 and sat on 'Stephen's bench' overlooking the northern end. It would have been great to end the day with a photo of a live Water Vole....but this was all I managed: a Dunnock enjoying a drink. The Grey Squirrel was too quick for me!

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