Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Radley Brook

Radley brook is probably more of a ditch than a brook and is not connected to the Ock. It joins the Thames via the Abbey streams just north of Abingdon weir, whilst the Ock joins south of the Abingdon bridge.

Several years ago, I signed up for the Wildlife Trusts water vole survey and then preceded - over 3 or 4 years to look for signs of feeding, droppings and burrows up and down the Kennet and Avon canal in Berkshire. With nothing to show for my effort, I eventually became disillusioned and stopped doing the surveys.

Meanwhile, my lunch times were spent walking along the Thames path - which runs next to Radley brook.

Then, one lunch time I saw my first ever water vole, then another and my fascination with this endearing - if somewhat reclusive mammal was restored. I then spent many happy lunch breaks just watching them.

That was two years ago and I haven't seen one there since.

Maybe, I'm unlucky - midday isn't the best time to go looking for water voles and hopefully they're still there.
But as far as I can see the population is extinct - maybe predated by Mink; maybe drowned in the recent floods; or perhaps just a natural population crash, these things do happen.
Still, whilst the sun shines and the nettles remain low, I'll continue to spend my lunch breaks searching for water voles.

So last year, I was thrilled to find water voles on the river Ock near where I live and since they're still there, I've decided to use this blog and google maps to record this population
(and other wildlife) - and with some luck, they'll avoid the same fate.

If anyone knows differently about the Radley brook water voles, please let me know.


  1. Field signs are the giveaway. There are several sites round me that I know to be occupied by water voles, but I've never ever seen an actual vole there.

    The other thing to remember is that colonies move, so you might have voles on a stretch one year and nothing the following year - it doesn't necessarily imply disaster.

    And just to complicate matters further, I've twice seen a water vole as I was coming away from an area I'd decided was vole-free on account of there being no obvious field signs.

    So never give up!

  2. I haven't seen any field signs at Radley Brook for a long time now. But I guess you can never prove a negative.
    But I think you're right, they could have moved, there certainly enough ditches, lakes in the area and there is the Thames itself for them to live in.
    But I'll keep on watching - it's a nice area anyway - with or without water voles.