Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maulden Allotments

With the promise of blue skies & sunshine, I took time owing today in order to spend a day with John O’Sullivan, our Hoverfly Recorder, searching flowering sallows for spring hoverflies. But the star of the day was a bigger and furrier creature, a Bank Vole that we came across mid-morning in the Maulden Allotments. I’d left my camera in the car, so these photos – minus the beastie itself – are the result of popping back later in the day.

It was John who spotted the Bank Vole scurrying around in the vegetation just to the right and forward of the brussel sprout stalk in the rear. That’s where the hole is.

We watched it for nearly 5 minutes or so as it constantly made its way up to a few feet from the hole before returning. Sometimes it was difficult to see what it was doing, but on one occasion we saw it drag a wad of old vegetation down into the hole. At other times it returned with a whole length of Red Deadnettle. In this photo you can see a number of the stems blocking up the hole!

This photo shows the stems removed with the hole on the left. The stem fragments are quite long.

A photo of the hole entrance reveals the presence of more stems jammed even further down the tunnel!!

This close-up reveals a few of the Red Dead-Nettle stems that have had sections gnawed off and removed. You can also see where a length of Chickweed has been removed, too, though there was no evidence of any Chickweed amongst the Red Deadnettle by the hole itself.

In this photo you can see the hole, filled with Red Deadnettle stems on the left-hand side. There is an obvious pathway running from left to right where the Bank Vole has removed the vegetation! The Bank Vole breeding season begins in March – I’m assuming that we witnessed a female animal collecting bedding and food material. If it is a ‘she’ and she’s about to give birth, maybe this food store jammed into the entrance of her home means that she won’t have to risk leaving the burrow for a few days?? I’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens!

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