Rare rodents seen on camera at canal in Devizes
8:00am Sunday 3rd November 2013 in Latest News
Staff at the Canal and River Trust are delighted with CCTV pictures they have captured of rare water voles on the banks of the Kennet and Avon Canal at Caen Hill in Devizes.
Maintenance workers saw water vole droppings at one of the lock pounds on the Caen Hill flight and so a heat sensitive camera was set up at the site. Initially it only caught glimpses of coots, mallards and a mouse but, after dark, the characteristic chunky shape of the water vole was seen on camera.
Laura Plenty, an ecologist who covers the area to the west of Devizes, said: “I couldn’t believe it when we captured our first footage of the water vole.
“It clearly wasn’t camera shy as we managed to get further footage, with the vole even investigating the camera and knocking it over, which happily led to some fantastic shots of water voles hauling themselves out of the water.”
Water vole numbers are falling nationally, largely because of the loss of their habitats, so the Canal and River Trust has been investing in the creation of vole-friendly areas when it is renovating banks and towpaths.
Miss Plenty said: “We knew there were populations of water voles above and below the flight but this is the first evidence we have had of them on the flight itself.
“When the canal bank was being renovated, water voles were caught and taken to a sanctuary to breed. Their offspring were then released on the canal and they have apparently been thriving.
“When we carry out bank protection work we do so in a wildlife-friendly manner by using a geo-textile called NicoSpan, which allows the voles to move around and burrow quite happily.”
The voles are sometimes persecuted because people mistake them for rats. Miss Plenty said: “They are easily told apart from rats because the voles have a snub nose, tucked-in ears and are quite chunky.”
The Canal and River Trust is asking the public to support its Give a Vole a Home appeal, which is on its website at www.canalrivertrust.org/volehome The footage taken of the water voles is online.
Comments are closed on this article.