Welcoming water voles
For the first time in 30 years one of Britain’s most endearing yet rare mammals, the water vole, could soon be spotted swimming along the riverbanks of its former home on the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate.
In September 150 water voles were reintroduced to the Exmoor estate, with a further 150 due to be released in spring 2019. They are Britain’s fastest declining land mammal but now these much loved creatures are being given a whole new start in a healthy environment, where they should breed and flourish. The trust believes that water voles can once more become an important and integral part of the whole ecology of Holnicote.
They will be closely monitored to see how they are settling in. The streams and banks can be seen from many walks on the estate and, as water voles are active during the day, they may well be encountered going about their business. Rangers, special ‘vole-unteers’ and students will be joining forces, using simple field signs to record their presence and behaviour. These include actual sightings and ‘plopping’ sounds as they dive in, droppings, vole runs and burrows, and grass blades nibbled off at distinctive 45 degree angles.