A wildlife diary of the western Isle Of Wight's beautiful countryside!
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Water Vole: the good, the bad & the ugly!
When I picked up the Trailcam from alongside the River Thouaret on Tuesday morning I was really encouraged to encounter a Water Vole swimming across the river. On the Isle of Wight I've really struggled to see Water Voles in the thick reed habitat, so it was wonderful to see this one in the open - a sequence which includes a nifty bit of underwater swimming:
That's the good news. When it is eating on the side of the bank it looks to be grappling with a big walnut, or something similar, but it looks like this may not be its favourite food around here, and that's the bad news:
An area of maize next to the riverbank that had been decimated by something...notice the remains of the plants that have been pulled towards the water's edge on the right-hand side.
A closer examination revealed what had caused the maize stalks to collapse:
Hmmm...and further evidence, if needed, was provided by the Water Vole feeding platform on this tree that had fallen into the water:
The thin white object is the empty remains of a sweetcorn husk. I think that the local farmer is also convinced of the identity of the varmits eating his corn. And this is the ugly bit:
Monsieur Fermier is obviously trying to trap Water Voles here, the trap opening out onto a run that leads down to the river's edge. The trap had been sprung but, fortunately, there was nothing inside it. Coming from the UK, where Water Voles - and even their habitat - are strongly protected, this was a bit of a shock.
This morning I watched another Water Vole on the river, and then checked the traps. All empty bar one, which contained this Brown Rat: