Close up of a soft release water vole during the phase three release of Westland Countryside Stewards water vole reintroduction project in Cornwall

Cornwall Water Vole Reintroduction

Phase 3: 2014 Programme of events

Spring Surveying

water vole surveyor pointing out a water vole latrine

Surveyor discovering a water vole latrine
Photo courtesy of Nick Upton

With 2014 quickly passing, surveying was carried out from the 29th April to the 1st May.  Our team managed to cover all the areas we needed and were lucky not to get too many rain showers.  We enjoyed a hard earned lunch at the Weir Cafe on the final day, and our photographer, Nick Upton, has been covering the project to help keep a pictorial record.  

Good field signs have been recorded mainly where the water levels are stable, and with breeding season under way their numbers will only increase.  Expect to hear the trademark ‘plop’ off the riverbanks.

BIFFA are helping fund us through the Landfill Communities Fund and for this we thank them on what is going to be a great year.

We’ve had a few people mention they’ve seen watervoles during the winter and on the 15th Mar 2014 I managed to get a glimpse of one at Rodds Bridge along the Bude canal.

Informative Talk

Westland Countryside Steward Water Vole Talk from Derek Gow at Bude Parkhouse Centre, Bude, Cornwall
Derek Gow presenting talk on water voles at Bude Park House Centre

We held an informative talk at The Parkhouse Centre, Bude on the 7th May 2014. The hand-out that accompanied the talk is available for download here.

Water Vole Release

With continued monitoring of the river catchment using mink rafts the 2014 release phase was started on the 20th June 2014 where 200 water voles were released into the catchment.  We were glad to accept the help and support of a small team from the Environment Agency, Bodmin. Cages were deployed at three sites on what was a warm and sunny mid-summer day.  Coverage of the project continued with Dr Nick Upton providing professional photography.  It was great to see the public whilst out and about and answer questions on what we were doing.

Over the next few days the cages were checked each morning and fresh apple and carrot fed to ensure they didn’t go hungry.  Exit boards were installed on the third day to allow the water voles access to the outside world.  We generally find once they are given the opportunity to leave the cage they are gone.

After the summer survey was undertaken, 75 water voles were released onto a private lake, taking the total number of water voles released in the Bude catchment to approximately 550.

This should be the final release now of the project so now we need to ensure regular surveying is carried out to check on how they are surviving.  Please do get in touch if you would like to help out with this.