The wildlife charity, People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), has launched its annual water vole survey, and is looking for volunteers in England, Scotland and Wales to take part and survey a local waterway close to where they live and record what they see online.
The survey, which is part of the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme, is open until 15 June. The results will help conservationists find where water voles are living, how their populations are changing each year, and most importantly, where they are in most need of help.
To take part in the survey, individuals, ‘bubbles’ or households are asked to select one of the 850 pre-selected sites close to their home, which can be found online. If there isn’t a pre-selected site close by, new sites on a local waterway can be registered. Volunteers are asked to walk along the riverbank looking for sightings of water voles, listening out for the characteristic ‘plop’ as they enter the water, or spotting the signs they leave behind, such as footprints, droppings, latrines or bankside burrows. Surveyors are also asked to record any sightings or signs of American mink and otters, both predators of water voles.
No previous experience is needed, as there are detailed survey guidelines and online training materials to help you identify water voles and their signs. To find out more and to take part in the survey, visit www.ptes.org/watervoles