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Vole play on Parkwood Springs

A vole is held in a clear plastic container, held in an unseen persons hand.
Photo by Peter Bull

Story by Graham Jones

It is always a pleasure to visit Parkwood Springs as there is always something new to see, whether it’s wildlife or the gradual development of the country park. And those views!

On 29th October some local people came to Parkwood Springs to participate in a small mammal survey, hosted by Sorby Natural History Society and the friends of Parkwood Springs.

Twenty humane and non-life threatening traps had been set the previous day and now, in the early morning we were going to see what had turned up. The entrances to the traps are very small, restricting the type of species that might wander in there looking for a bit of supper and a cosy bed for the night.

Val Clinging, recorder of the Sorby‘s Mammal group led the walk in an informative and entertaining way. Our first port of call was the Forest garden where it was thought some little creatures might be attracted by the various fruit and berries growing there. We were not disappointed as the traps here held two bank voles and one wood mouse. An example of each species was put into a Perspex box so that we could see them, and they seemed unperturbed and quite interested in us too. As we walked round we found a few more bank voles. In fact six of the traps had caught little rodents.

At first it’s quite hard to tell a bank vole from a wood mouse. They are both tiny and have brown fur on their back with a white or pale underbelly. The wood mouse has a tail as long as its head and body but a bank vole has a tail about half as long as its body. A mouse has a pointy face whereas voles have much blunter features.

On Parkwood Springs, the voles definitely won on the aaaah factor.

We also saw a leopard on Parkwood Springs that day. Not a big spotted cat, this is Parkwood Springs, not the Serengeti, but a beautifully marked leopard slug.

It’s a relief to be able to say that no animals were hurt in the production of this article.

In some open land, in front of some tress, a woman holds up a clear plastic tub, looking into it. Two people stand on the right of the photo, dressed for cold weather, looking at the tub.
Photo by Peter Bull

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