Surveying carried out in the Manhood area by our group have found very encouraging signs of water vole activity. The results are sent to the Biodiversity Record Centre and have provided the most complete and detailed records for all of Sussex. We are very fortunate in having such a strong population of this endangered mammal. However, as so many of us know, seeing signs of the creatures is not the same as seeing them in the flesh! They are very elusive and even if you are lucky enough to have a quick glimpse, photographs have so far escaped us.
The following pictures were taken during a survey at Medmerry in 2009.
This is an example of good water vole habitat – open water with good cover at the side and plenty of varied and fresh feeding material.
We are not entirely happy to confirm water vole presence without a good bit of poo!
A typical burrow will have feeding remains at the entrance. Feeding stations are the most common sign of water vole presence. The voles cut lengths of reed at a 45degree angle until they come to a succulent enough piece to eat. The discarded pieces build up into piles which can act as boundary markers to vole family territories. When they move territory, the female will often mark the pile further by using it as a latrine.
And sometimes you will find a good footprint!