The foundation of the food supply

Bank voles can easily be found by gently raising any timber or metal sheets you find lying on the ground.

Bank voles can easily be found by gently raising any timber or metal sheets you find lying on the ground.

0
Have your say

No wonder this wee bank vole seems nervous, the species is preyed upon by almost every carnivore and predator in the countryside.

Voles, both bank voles and field voles, can easily be found by gently raising any timber or metal sheets you find lying on the ground.

There you will also find a nest of dry grass and a network of tunnels and burrows.

Obviously the wee vole is taken aback by the sudden disappearance of its roof as it will freeze and remain motionless as it tries to spot you and work out which way to run.

The trick is to keep still so that you can have a long view of the vole, maybe even try a slow photograph, before gently replacing its shelter as you found it.

Bank voles are usually found near hedges, verges, rubble and other shelter.

Field voles which are slightly bigger, greyer and with a shorter tail, are pretty much confined to wild grassland where their burrows and tunnels among the grass roots are easily found.

Generally voles are innocent vegetarians,doing little harm to crops, gardens or forestry. Most importantly voles are the foundation of a food chain supporting, all our local owl species, plus kestrels, buzzards, weasels and stoats.

My camera traps monitor wildlife year round.

At the moment it is noticeable how numbers of small mammals are crashing as heavy predation, failing food supplies and harsh weather reduce their numbers to their annual minimum.

Thankfully voles, shrews and field mice are prolific breeders and will soon bounce back when spring kicks off another breeding season.

By summer’s end they will once more be abundant and I will be guaranteed a view most times I sneak a look under a log or other likely shelter.

Try it yourself and say hello to the timorous wee bank vole.

By George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services, Wildlife Management