Water Vole Wednesday and taking photos

"Bother", "Oh, blow" and "Hang spring-cleaning" said the mole in the opening paragraphs of Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows.
Leaving behind his mop and bucket he set off outside and soon stumbled across a little brown face with whiskers and a twinkle in its eye; "It was the Water Rat!".
Not everyone is quite as fortunate as Mole to take a breather from work and then to bump into a water vole, as we know them now as they're rather few and far between today having undergone a long term decline; research suggests that they disappeared from 94% of their former sites.  Reasons for the decline are thought to include habitat degradation and pollution although predation by introduced American mink has had a severe impact to the extent of causing local extinctions.  

A series of reintroduction programmes, use of mitigation techniques when known populations are impacted by human development and change in land management techniques to prevent damaging the voles habitat are helping in the recovery that's beginning to be seen in both population numbers and geographic range.

Many years ago I was lucky enough to be knee deep in a clean, clear, if slightly peaty, stream busy explaining river morphology and showing bank undercutting to a group of mostly interested (but slightly bored and rather cold) year six children when a water vole ran over my welly-booted foot.  That got them interested! Although it did take a moment or two to calm down the city dwellers and explain that it wasn't actually a rat but rather a sweet little vole and then we had a short diversion to look at vole holes in the bank which proved to be excellent at showing off the lovely sandy soil profiles too.

If you see any of the cast of characters from the book be sure to report them - using the new Mammal Mapper app (or to ARC Trust if you're nearly run over by a washer-woman* in a speeding jalopy!) More about the app in last Friday' blog here.

Read about Mammal Society’s Water Vole Wednesday.

*that would be Toad to anyone who hasn't yet enjoyed the delights of The Willows

You might be a regular mammal spotter and even have taken some lovely photos earlier in the year.  If you've been lucky enough to grab a shot as lovely as yesterday’s hedgehog or today’s water vole you should think about submitting them into the annual Mammal Photographer of the Year competition to be in with the chance of winning some lovely prizes.