Water Vole Watching

The past couple of weeks I have been visiting the Itchen Navigation watching and photographing Water Voles to gather information towards one of my Woodlife Diploma assignments.

Each time I visit my eyes have become more tuned to the water voles and their habitat. I have had locals ask me what I’m photographing, when I tell them water voles they ask “do we still get them here?”
I then show them some photographs of the day or simply point out the burrows on the opposite side of the navigation with a water vole sat there munching on a nice juicy reed. The response is normally I thought that was a rat or they plainly just didn’t see it.
This makes me chuckle as this particular part of the Itchen is called “Water Vole way”

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So apart from getting some nice photographs of the water voles I went in search of actual signs of their presence. Water voles will use latrines to mark out their territory so I really wanted to find some of these territorial markers. Now a lot of these latrines are in and along the banks in the reed and sedge and can be quite difficult to get to without wading through the water and although I found scat I didn’t find a latrine. Apart from also not wanting to disturb the water voles the level of the Itchen had risen a lot so any chance of recent latrines could have been under water, still something else for me to look for next time.

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Water voles also use feeding stations. At these feeding stations you can find strips of reed or sedge where the water voles discarded the non succulent parts of the plant. I could also feeding signs all around in the vegetation, reeds cut off at a 45° angle made by the water voles bright orange incisors.

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Where the water level hadn’t raised above the mud I also found some water vole prints

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I have spent a lot of this time just watching and for the most they forage for food and sit around eating, waters voles will eat up to 80% of their body weight in food each day. But every now and then you get some excitement, water voles are territorial and when one strolls into another’s territory a rough and tumble normally ensues

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The picture above is a little deceiving, it looks like the two are up on their back legs having a good look around when in reality they are in a full on rough and tumble with the water vole at the front about to retreat back into the water.

Another great day at the along the Itchen Navigation…

Now I need to get that assignment done……

 

 

This entry was posted in Itchen Navigation.

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