Sunday, 6 September 2009

Water Vole

Earlier today we enjoyed our first ever visit to Askham Bog YWT Reserve. Two miles SW of York, its an ancient relict fen, with a one mile boardwalk route through the reserve.

To our left we heard a loud rustle in the vegetation at the waters edge. Having read on one of the information boards that Roe Deer are often seen in the area we stood still & silent in anticipation of a deer. The noise continued but no deer appeared. I crept along the boardwalk walking far enough to gain an unobscured view of the far bank whereby I noticed a much smaller mammal. Initially I thought it was a rat but this was more rounded and didn't have the ears or the tail of a rat.

It was a Water Vole, Arvicola terrestris. We'd never seen one before & luckily managed to observe it for a good few minutes.

They eat grasses & waterside vegetation. Their most important predators are mink and stoats.

After a couple of minutes it swam over to the near bank.

When it reached the near bankside it lowered its head below water level & its head became covered in weed. You can just make it out in the next two shots.

The Water Vole returned to the far bank and removed the pondweed in a flash, too quick for me to capture anyway.

It disappeared underwater with a 'plop' which Ive subsequently read is characteristic of Water Voles. What a fantastic discovery. The Mammal Society have more information about these wonderful creatures.


  1. Great series of pictures. It's a long time since I've seen a water vole. There used to be a population in the Bishop's Park in Bishop Auckland, but they disappeared about 20 years ago.

  2. Very nice pictures, how lucky you were to see one!

  3. A magnificent series of photos with a lovely description. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for your visit but more importantly bringing your lovely blog to my attention, now bookmarked
    Lovely shots of the Water Vole, I remember similar sightings myself
    Thanks for giving the fellow his correct name
    I can only forgive one person, Kenneth Grahame, for calling it a rat
    Regards Prof

  5. Amazing! What a great animal to see and such lovely pictures.

  6. Hello all, it was a lovely afternoon & we were absolutely delighted with our sighting, thanks for all of your kind comments. Linda


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