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Showing posts from May, 2016

Water Vole Surveying

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Back in January, I agreed to carry out a water vole survey as part of the People's Trust for Endangered Species National Water Vole Monitoring Programme. They are carrying out surveys across the country in May each year and calling on volunteers to survey selected sites. The site I chose from their list was a 500 metre stretch of Bishop Wilton Beck, a small stream that crosses the fields between my village and the next one. It had been surveyed before and water voles were found, so I was optimistic about finding them again.

 In the 1990s water vole numbers crashed by 90%
In April, I attended a water vole and otter survey training day, run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Alkborough Flats. We had a talk about water vole and otter ecology and survey methods, followed by a walk around the flats - a huge area of reedbed. It was a good site for the training day, as we found evidence of water voles and otters, as well as lots of badger footprints and latrines.

Stuffed water vole
Water vol…

New Badger Cubs

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There are two cubs at the sett this year. They've been above ground for about two weeks now, but they've stayed close to mum. She's been very secretive and kept them well clear of me. Now at last, they're starting to run off on their own and I'm getting better views of them. For the last few nights I've put out a dish of honey with the usual peanuts, in an attempt to draw them out of cover. Both cubs like the honey, but the adults ignore it - maybe they've been stung before!

I love the first cub's reaction when the second one turns up

Tansy Beetles after the Flood

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Last Christmas York was seriously flooded. The floodplains around the city were inundated for several weeks afterwards and I wondered what effect this would have on the population of the endangered Tansy beetle, which was hibernating underground. They are known to cope with winter flooding, but just how much is too much?

 December 2015: Water to the top of the floodbank
I survey a section of riverbank each year, recording tansy plants and tansy beetles. My sector was particularly badly hit by the flooding, as the area populated with tansy beetles is confined by floodbanks which kept the water level higher, and for longer, than on the adjacent plain. The main survey period is in late summer, when the new generation of beetles emerge from pupation, but last year I carried out a spring survey as well. This week I've been back to my sector, to repeat the spring survey and see if any beetles have survived.

 May 2016: The same area now dried out
Finding the tansy plants at this time of …