It’s not over til it’s over. Get out there and do something to change things
We desperately need more conservationists who are independent thinkers. Who ‘do’ rather than witlessly ‘discuss’. Those individuals, who find ways around obstacles with a devilish glee, set examples of lives which are truly worthwhile. Lives for and on behalf of nature’
Half way through reading the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife, something I recommend that everyone who cares about nature and the countryside here or abroad does. I have found my new mantra for living in these words by Derek Gow an ecologist who I have had the pleasure of working with. Well said Derek.
March 2016 – A World of Water Voles
The month of March has been choca block full of water vole. Work to improve a pump house on a watercourse managed by the Lower Medway Internal Drainage Board involved widening a drainage ditch which survey work had revealed held a small population of water vole. Due to the length of the channel trapping was the only option.
Working with Derek Gow Consultancy, traps were set along the channel and checked morning and evening for 15 days. After 5 days with no water vole signs the site was declared clear and the ditch banks were scraped of vegetation using a destructive bank technique overseen by ecologists.
Josh Bartel sets a trap
setting water vole traps on steep banks involves good balance!
Legislation involving water voles has recently been reviewed. Where only small sections of bank are to be effected by works then displacement is sometime a better option than trapping. This involves strimming banks to bare earth in order to encourage voles to move to new territories. Until recently their was much uncertainty about the success of this technique and it was used widely and at varying times of years as a cheaper and less invasive option to trapping. Under Natural England’s new guidelines it will be necessary to hold a displacement licence to carry out this technique and work will only be able to take place during the early spring.
The new guidelines provide welcome clarification for a practice which was previously open to interpretation and the emphasis on an overall conservation benefit from the work should hopefully make it harder for developers to destroy quality habitats and replace it with inadequate and overstocked translocation sites. More work needs to be done with follow up monitoring to ensure translocation does not result in a net loss of protected species.
To ensure we are up to date with procedure we finished the month with staff training in water vole handling techniques at Wildwood in Kent.
Meet Barry, the water vole, being held by Megan Philpot of the Derek Gow Consultancy. Barry was caught yesterday out at Great Bells on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent where I am spending plenty of time working for Medway Internal Drainage Board on a scheme to widen a drainage channel. Unfortunately this means that the water voles need to be temporarily evicted so as not to be hurt by the machines. Barry is currently spending his days in a warm container fattening up on Golden Delicious apples before being released later this year.