WATER VOLE CRISIS – 2015-2016
Water Voles have been an important aspect of the wildlife of Brook Meadow ever since the conservation group started in year 2000. We have carefully protected their habitat and monitored their population, but as shown in the chart below, sightings of Water Voles have fallen dramatically from a high in 2012 to a low point in 2015 and they are seriously threatened.
A recent survey by a professional ecologist – Andy Rothwell – found no signs of Water Vole activity anywhere on the main River Ems. But there were some signs of activity on the Lumley Stream on the east side of the meadow. So we hope some voles will move across to the main river. If not then we will need to consider other options such as re-introduction.
4 June 2016 – Lumley Stream – Brian Fellows
While perusing the plants on the side of the Lumley Stream, I spotted what looked like a really fresh Water Vole burrow hole on the east bank. Almost immediately, a Water Vole appeared, swimming downstream and stopped on the bank outside the hole. I was in luck. This was my first Water Vole of the year. It may have been the same animal that Carole Checksfield & Paul Seagrave and Chris Akass had seen from the Lumley Path footbridge at the north end of Peter Pond, although this one was some way north up the Lumley Stream from the Lumley pool. Fortunately, it remained on the bank while I gingerly got my camera out and took a few snaps.
After a couple of minutes, it swam a little way downstream and disappeared into another hole on the same side of the stream not to be seen again. Wow! I thought I would never see a Water Vole again on Brook Meadow, but they are definitely still here! Let’s hope there is more than one and they manage to breed. If so, then the youngsters may well disperse across the meadow to the main River Ems on the west side where we have lost our original population.