Water Vole Observatory
This year on Saturday 20th May we had what will now become our Annual Water Vole Survey Day, the results of which will help NRN understand the health of our local water vole population and will also contribute to the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme.
Keen NRN volunteers joined forces with local experts Anna Rowlands, Principal Ecologist from Atkins Ltd, and her colleagues from the company's Birmingham office, as well as Lucy Stoddart, Mammal Project Field Officer for Berks. Bucks. & Oxon. Wildlife Trust. They all gave their time and expertise pro bono to help raise awareness of the water vole and share information and give training on how to survey.
Surveys to search for signs of water vole ( i.e. burrows, droppings, feeding remains, footprints) were successfully completed along 500m sections of two of our locally well known water courses: the Limb brook and Wharf stream, as well as some tributaries including one belonging to the River Thames called Eynsham Mead ditch.
The sun was shining and the water voles did not disappoint. Evidence of water vole was recorded on all of these watercourses, which was a really exciting result. We also had a few unexpected events, including seeing a grass snake eating a toad and hearing the distant call of curlew.
Under serious threat from habitat loss and predation by the American mink, water vole affords its protection in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), it is a Priority Species under the Post -2010 Biodiversity Framework and is listed as endangered under both the Great Britain and the England Red List for mammals.
From this year's survey alone, results suggest we are extremely fortunate to have a notable population of water vole in the Eynsham area. This was not predicted or inevitable, albeit water voles were a familiar sight to the children of Eynsham 50 years ago. The NRN now seeks to encourage the improvement and enhancement of suitable habitats for water vole to give an opportunity for the population to expand back into areas where it existed many decades ago.
If you would like to hear more, or take part in the NRN Water Vole Survey, sign up for our autumn survey on September 16th: https://www.nature-recovery-network.org/events/96/