Mammals
Water Voles at Eakring
     
After having a viable population at Eakring Flash for much of the past 11 years, the formerly common Water Vole now seems to have suffered a drastic decline.
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Water Voles are declining nationally and are one of our most threatened mammals. They are now given full protection and thus their hopefully continued presence here is extremely welcome and important.

Some people may perhaps question the validity of publishing any details of their whereabouts here, but suffice it to say, very few local residents are even aware of their presence here, let alone their fully protected status.

Several times in the past, irresponsible dog-walkers have allowed their dogs to cause considerable damage to Water Vole habitat here and the public need to be made aware of the potential threat to existing numbers. An additional threat comes from potential habitat destruction/disturbance from agricultural machinery and herbicide/pesticidal spray-drift during the course of the growing season.

 
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  Where and when

Although the population here always appeared to be small (we did little work on their actual numbers) they were reasonably easy to see if you knew when and where to look and appeared to do quite well over recent years. They favoured the slower moving stretch of The Beck at Eakring Flash and were often easier to see during the first half of the year when vegetation was short.

The best place to see them, used to be from the foot-bridge at the northern end of Eakring Flash. Early morning often offered the best viewing and patience would be rewarded with stunning views. They were often best found by looking for their movement in the water or the tell-tale signs of chewed grass at the base of the small banks alongside The Beck. Find these and Water Voles were never far away.

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Present status of the Water Vole at Eakring

It seems extremely likely that the Eakring Flash Water Vole population has now died out. We found no trace, or had any sighting during 2008, or after the early part of 2007.

It is difficult to suggest a reason for it's decline here, but Eakring Flash and The Beck which runs around it, has suffered several periods of severe flooding during that time and whilst no grass cutting has ever taken place along part of the banks, annual maintenance does occur along one stretch. The continued use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as part of modern farming practices, could also be another potential cause of decline, but predation by Mink is considered unlikely.

Protection / Advice to visitors

If visiting this site, please keep to the footpath and the bridge alongside The Beck only. It is an offence to disturb these mammals and dog walkers are asked to pay particular attention to their dogs, not letting them swim in the water.

     
Mammals
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