Tales of the Riverbank

Friday, November 15th 2013

Ken has completed his latest challenge of capturing a Water Vole on film with his remote camera. Although difficult to spot, these elusive mammals often leave behind footprints in the clay pads that are left out to monitor for presence of mink. During the winter months, the voles do not hibernate but their activity levels are greatly reduced making them even more tricky to see in the wild. As you can see from the footage below, they are considerably smaller in size than a rat and have much shorter tails.

 At the other end of the 'tail spectrum', Long-tailed tits were caught and ringed this afternoon. These beautiful birds are easily recognisable with their distinctive colouring, tails that are longer than their bodies, and undulating flight. They rove about in flocks of about twenty and are often heard at Foxglove calling to each other in the tree tops.


In Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker writes that “outside the breeding season they rove through their communal territory enveloped in a perpetual cocoon of soft, bubbling contact notes”. When a party flew off, he said, “they resemble a succession of whirring sticks with globular, pink ping-pong ball foreparts”. John Clare referred to them as bumbarrels in his poems.


A Kingfisher was watched feeding on the lake today and a Common Darter dragonfly was observed in the scrapes this afternoon. Watch this space for the results of Ken's next challenge!

(1) Comments:

Glenn responded on 17th Nov 2013 with...

And coy bumbarrels twenty in a drove
Flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain
And hang on little twigs and start again.

John Clare, ‘the peasant poet’, written in the early 1800s.

As discussed on Friday. G.

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