Monday, 29 April 2013

Thursday, 25 April 2013

First water vole photo of 2013

This year has seems to have been a slow year for water voles along the Ock, the very poor spring has meant that the breeding season is late as well as not being conducive to looking for wildlife.
So it is great to see that they have survived the winter (and any Mink) and are still about, even if sightings are less frequent than this time last year:
.
.


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

First day of spring?

On Sunday, it seemed spring had finally arrived, the sun was shining and the temperature (in the morning at least) reached 16 degrees. As a result there was more activity along the river:
Such as a peacock butterfly - possibly just risen from hibernation and basking in the sun, maybe a male defining a territory.
.
.
The lesser celandine is now in flower, providing food for a tortoiseshell butterfly, also risen from hibernation.
.
.
Another insect rising from hibernation is this queen bumblebee.  Bumblebees often make their nests in defunct small mammal burrows, so perhaps she is checking out the suitability of the water vole burrows along the river banks.

.
Not all animals have chosen to spend the winter in hibernation, some choose to spend in a different country, including the warblers and have now started to return - such as this chiffchaff -  to make the most of the abundance of insects which spring and summer along the river should provide.
.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Where are the water voles?

Normally, along the river there would be lots of signs of water vole activity and they would be fairly easy to see as they define breeding territories.
But the cold spring seems to have delayed the start of the water vole season, but there a few signs of increased activity, including the distinctive evidence of feeding:
.
 .
And the first water vole latrines are starting to appear:
.
.
Although the most obvious sign is the ever increasing number of new burrows:
.
.
But it's not all good news, opposite these burrows is a fairly fresh mink scat.
.
.
Yet further downstrain, there is evidence of a different mammal activity - a dry spraint, indicating there is still otter activity of the river.
.
 .
Meanwhile over at the 'About a Brook; blog, Kate is seeing a lot more water vole activity and close encounters with a different mustelid: http://staggsbrook.blogspot.co.uk/