Mostly it seems to have been a stable summer for the Whitchurch water voles. The colonies at Edgeley Road and Grocontinental have held their own, as have the ones at White Lion Meadow car park (near Tesco), at Mossfields and at Black Park Road. There’s otter presence at the Black Park Road site, too. Unfortunately the vegetation at Greenfields, the country park, is currently too thick to get anywhere near the banks, so it’s hard to tell how the population’s going on there. There were certainly water voles at Greenfields Rise in late June because we had a sighting.
Less good is what’s happened at the Prees Branch Canal nature reserve, where what used to be a thriving colony now seems dramatically reduced in numbers, with just a few signs near Dobson’s Bridge. The most likely explanation is mink predation, as there’s been no obvious disturbance to the water quality or banks.
The management of the brook along the back of Wayland’s Road is also an issue, as all cover and food has been stripped along the whole length of both sides of this stretch. We’re trying to find out who’s done this then we can stop it happening again.
It’s vital that landowners follow best practice in clearing out ditches and in cutting back riverside plants. If in doubt, ask – there’s any amount of advice out there. Water voles are protected by law and it’s an offence to damage their habitat.
(Thanks to Kate Long for writing this article)