© Steve Marshall / Wild Future

Following a chance meeting Martin Ketcher of Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust (HMWT) asked FoSL to help encourage the return of the delightful water vole to the River Colne that borders one side of our reserve. The water vole is of course “Ratty” in the “Wind in the Willows”. Water voles were seen on our reserve in the 1990s but when mink arrived they disappeared.

Richard Drew, a former Stocker's Lake warden, laid traps for the mink and indeed caught one, although it escaped when his back was turned.  So we’ve now started doing again what we last did over 20 years ago. We’ve floated two mink rafts on Stocker’s Lake and to spread the net, one on Springwell Lake. These float on the water and with a flat clay box, the surface of which is kept wet via a layer of oasis that absorbs water from the underlying lake, the clay can then record the footprints of any creatures stepping onto the raft: notably mink or water voles..

We’ve formed a small FoSL group which inspects the rafts every week and reports its finding to Martin at the HMWT. This good work is done by Pam Pike, Jackie Knott, Tony & Sheila Lee, Anna Marett, Nan Millette and Jacky Buckton and co-ordinated by Russell Ball.

GREAT NEWS: “Ratty” is Back! 
A small party consisting of Martin Ketcher and Josh Kalms from the Trust and our very own Barbara James have discovered Water Voles on the reserve by the little side stream that runs behind our Margaret Partridge Plot that we purchased three years or so ago. This is the first sighting since the 1990s.

October 2019