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13 November 2014

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You are in: Essex > Nature > Nature Features > Ratty's resurgance

Water vole carrying young © Russell F Spencer

Water voles return © Russell F Spencer

Ratty's resurgance

The Essex Water Vole Recovery Project appears to be paying off, as the most endangered of all our mammals has returned to the HQ of Essex Wildlife Trust, Abbotts Hall Farm at Great Wigborough.

Six years ago, the lake was created at Abbotts Hall as a mitigation for the breaching of the sea wall which created 300-acres of salt marshes, however, in the process it broke through the borrow dykes where the water voles were living.

Lake at Abbots Hall

Home to water voles

Now, the water vole population at Abbotts Hall has risen dramatically since 2007.  They are prolific breeders having five or six young at a time, with five or six litters a year.  One female could have up to 30 young voles.

The monitoring raft on the lake was put in earlier this year and is already showing signs of water vole activity. 

"We've got latrines, which is their droppings, which is a sort of territory marker," says  Darren Tansely, Water for Wildlife Officer.  "We've got lots of reed that has been chopped up into a little food pile."

The raft is being visited on a daily basis by the water voles.  It's not just the one odd water vole that is visiting.

"The end of last year we came down to do just a quick look around the edge of the lake not expecting anything," said Darren.  "And we found our first water vole signs after five years.  Now we look around the lake and we find them absolutely everywhere."

There are also signs of water vole activity on the other ponds around the farm.  They're on at least four other water bodies.  The population is far exceeding what was originally on the site before the sea wall was breached.

Find out more about the water vole's return when BBC Essex's Renee Hockley-Byam accompanied Water for Wildlife Officer Darren Tansley as he checked the monitoring raft on the lake.

last updated: 29/08/2008 at 14:55
created: 29/08/2008

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