Water vole conservation

Water vole conservation

The summer began with an exciting addition to the wildlife found at the Wetlands – a water vole was spotted using the reed bed in front of the new Richard Woolley Bird Hide. The sighting at Walthamstow Wetlands was a hugely welcome one for Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve as the species is under serious global threat from habitat loss and predation. Similar looking to the brown rat, but with a blunt nose, small ears and furry tail, the water vole used to be found in nearly every waterway in England, Scotland and Wales but is now thought to have been lost in up to 90% of these sites.

Water vole

Image credit: Peter Trimming

Water vole

Image credit: Peter Trimming

To improve the habitat for water voles, Thames Water has recently completed works on the Coppermill Stream at Walthamstow Wetlands. The works included creating new water vole habitat along a 200 metre stretch on the Coppermill Stream, using silt from the stream to backfill and grow marginal plants, building a mid-stream unvegetated feeding station for the mammals and opening up the tree canopy to give more light to the stream and improve the flow of water.

The work has taken approximately two weeks to complete and it is hoped that the improved bank structure and vegetation will encourage more water voles to breed and use the site for feeding and dwelling. Visitors should keep an eye on the Wetlands’ website and the sightings board in the Engine House for further news on water voles at Walthamstow Wetlands.

 

Thames Water works

Thames Water operational works