The search for Ratty
On a sunny day at the beginning of May, two excited groups of children accompanied by parents were given the rare permission by the Teffont Fishing Club to walk along the river bank to look for signs of the protected Water Vole (Ratty in Wind in the Willows).
We are lucky too have a good population here as the species has declined by 90% countrywide.
My group started at Stubbles and walked downstream and under the railway bridge where they found Otter footprints in the mud. There were many burrows along the bank we were on, some with ‘lawns’ of nibbled grass round them. We could see many large burrows on the opposite banks.
After much searching we found some footprints down by the water and a few pieces of reeds eaten in a typical way at a 45 degree angle at each end. We also found a few distinctive cigar shaped droppings.
We did not see any voles but they are most definitely there and they are shy and we were not very quiet!
Inés took her group along the river from Catherine’s Ford and counted approximately a burrow per every meter along a 170 metre stretch.
The children had a wonderful time and Inés sent the records off to the Mammal Society.
Izzy Fry has also written a lovely account with some great photos, on her blog here. It looks like having been a lot of fun and fascinating as well.
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Young Nature Watch (YNW) is a branch of the Tisbury and District Natural History Society (TNHS). Our first event was on July 2020.
YNW is free for under-21s! Young people always have priority at any of our activities but accompanying adults are required for under-12s. Whenever possible, we will aim to split attendants into three different groups:
- Families with young children
- Teenagers only
- Young-at-heart of all ages
For adults, annual membership for the TNHS (£10) or a £2 fee per event (for non-members) is due.
YNW activities are organised by Inés Lopez-Doriga and Izzy Fry (find out more about how it all started in Focus, p.27).
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YNW logo design by Izzy Fry.