Country Corner

A vole captured on cairncam
A vole captured on cairncam

I was telling you last week of CairnCam, one of my camera traps, sited inside a wee rock pile.

We have already looked at shrews. This week it is the turn of the voles.

Unlike the shrews with their elongated snouts, voles have very short and blunt faces as you can see here.

This is a Bank Vole, the most common vole species to visit cairncam.

In expanses of rank grassland, similar to the rough on golf courses, you will find the field vole.

You may also have heard of the much larger water vole, a creature so familiar to me on the riversides of my boyhood, yet so rare now.

You may also have heard the ridiculous yet much repeated statement ,you are “never more than a few feet away from the nearest rat”.

That is total tosh and only goes to show prove how a grossly sensationalist statement gets picked up and repeated so often, it eventually becomes fact!

However, if you were to say the same of voles, you may be nearer the truth.

Certainly in uncultivated countryside, the numbers of unseen field voles in the grasses and bank voles in the hedges and walls, can be measured in those terms.

This is particularly true now, towards the end of summer, when they have been busy breeding and multiplying their populations. Voles, particularly field voles, are in fact well known to have plague years when their numbers spiral and the wee critters seem to be everywhere.

In fact I was delighted to discover bank voles have been breeding in cairncam, when their tiny youngsters began spilling out of a secret wee burrow!