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Thursday, April 21, 2011

It’s a vole lotta fun! One of Britain's most endangered species at play by the river


Geronimole! The fluffy, chubby-faced creatures splash around in the water oblivious to the camera catching their antics

Leaping into the river, nibbling on grass and picking blackberries, these water voles may look like they haven’t a care in the world — but they are one of Britain’s most endangered mammals.

Increasingly displaced from their habitats by the development of the countryside, the number of water voles has dropped almost 90 per cent in the past 30 years to 500,000.

Is it munch time already? Conservationists are battling to boost numbers of the cute furry rodents in the British countryside

They grow to between three and seven inches in length and are often mistaken for mice, rats or moles. Perhaps not a lot of people realise that Ratty from The Wind In The Willows was really a water vole.

Wildlife photographer Terry Whittaker, 54, has been capturing the antics of the vole population shown here for more than nine years at a stream near Maidstone, Kent.

Moss bros: Three juvenile voles make the most of their brief youth - they become sexually mature at one month old. Terry Whittaker first hotographed water voles in 2001

On your marks... A vole prepares to leap into the brink. Voles are put at risk by the destruction of their habitat and the introduction of American mink into the UK

Often wearing waders — with his camera ready at water level — the photpgrapher has been known to wait for up to eight hours to get the perfect shot.

He says: ‘I’ll often spot one with a patch of fur missing or a chunk of its ear gone . . . they are very aggressive towards one another.’

But as these pictures show, they’re mostly just messing about on the river.

Berry nice, in fact these are almost as sweet as me. Not a patch on that splendid picnic yesterday with Moley though...

source: dailymail


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