I was really hoping that I’d see signs of water vole on Wisley Common this morning. When one of the rangers sent me these pictures last week I was optomistic that we might be on to find evidence of these endangered mammals in Surrey  for the first time in three years. We just don’t have any extant records in the county, although we do have lots and lots of American mink.

So with the sun on my face on a gorgeous Spring morning I set off to Wisley to meet up with the James and Gemma and Richard and head out to the ditch where James had taken these pictures. The ditch was really no more than a flush through a field giving rise to  a healthy sward of Juncus rushes. Belted galloways grazed contendly in the warmth, until Amber the collie took an interest in them and they stared warily as we passed through, scanning the rushes. As we approached, a snipe flushed from the rushes and a buzzard soared overhead.

Piles of trimmed Juncus were everywhere, some stems over 10cm but mostly short sections. I came across scattered droppings but none were really of the size I would have expected for water vole. Then I found an impressive field vole nest in amongst the rushes. I didn’t find any signs that water vole were present though

Despite the lack of water vole evidence, eagle-eyed James did spot a harvest mouse nest, which was the first record for the site; I’ll be back in the autumn with traps to see if we can find any live animals as part of the Surrey Harvest Mice Project.