Monday, October 24, 2011

While the cat's away ....... (2)

After a quick bacon and egg butty at the cycle centre I had to decide where to go next.  As I needed to visit Slimbridge it was a bit of a no-brainer, but I wasn't sure there would be too much to see.  There were the usual residents :
a curious jackdaw

and a young woodpigeon

but not too much else in the way of wildlife.  I wandered into the pond zone - from my childhood I've had a love of things aquatic, even to the extent of considering marine biology as a career.  Instead I went another way, spent many hours fishing but never did learn to scuba dive.  Still, like rockpooling, whenever I find dipping ponds, etc I find myself drawn to stare in.  There were the usual snails ....
a few sticklebacks ( a heavy crop - but I'm quite pleased with this one with the spines clearly visible) .......
and even the odd insect perhaps egg-laying?

So did you guess the clue I posted yesterday?  It's the egg shape just above the waterline.

As I walked up to this particular pool there was a distinct and frankly unmistakable 'plop'. Have you got it yet?
Go on - more 'eggs' and a tail!  Yes a water vole (and poo).

Sitting around for a while it became clear there were at least two juveniles and an adult.  I took some more shots, and had such fun I've been back a couple of times since.  The background isn't the easiest for the most picturesque shits, but they were quite unconcerned by my presence if I stayed still.  I couldn't believe they were wild, but an email exchange with a very helpful lady called Sue Porter confirmed they were wild visitors, although they had only known one was using the site.  At one time on the Slimbridge site as a whole they had just 5 breeding pairs, now numbers are estimated at 300, and they are spreading out into the local canal.
You do need to be patient - like the voles at Cromford canal feeding comes in short bursts, but I can assure you you will never get closer views.  At times I could have just scooped them out as they swam past, and the youngsters could be watched swimming underwater.  It was a a bit like watching young grebes when they first try and swim - all energy and bluster, but not too much grace.
A few of the following shots are slightly cropped to remove extraneous vegetation, but the first couple for example are full frame.  Love it.

More pictures on the website.  I hope they don't get too popular and then disturbed, but they seem quite habituated to people and the last time I was there about half a dozen other photographers appeared when I was snapping.  I'd been there about 3 hours by then though - sore knees!

From Mammals


Bob Bushell said...

Wow, I love your Water Vole,it is superb.

Brian said...

Thanks Bob. You'll never get closer views - worth a look if you are over there.