10 May 2014: A walk along Ginge Brook

Leader: Jo Cartmell

It was a day of showers and gusting wind, but that did not stop nine setting off in anoraks and wellington boots to hunt voles. Our first stop was at the watercourse alongside the allotments. There were several vole holes in the banks. Jo noted recent droppings and one or two of the holes had the characteristic cropped aprons in front indicating a breeding female at home. However any voles about were staying inside and so we crossed back over the road to the watercourse alongside the cricket pitch. Although we saw some vole holes, Jo said this site seemed to have been deserted. The reason was clear. The mowing/strimming of the road verge had been carried right down the bank almost to the water level. This was very disappointing. The Steventon village website, proud of the vole re-colonisation, says “The law has now been changed to make it illegal to damage the habitat of the water voles. If you are a land owner then you will have been sent a guide giving details on how to manage the banks. The Parish Council and SARINC have produced guidelines on how to manage the common watercourses.” Clearly someone has not taken in the message.

Next, we crossed over towards the A34, passing by the marshy area to join the Ginge brook. A buzzard was overhead, being mobbed by a lapwing. Having seen the buzzard off, the lapwing re-joined its partner and the mallard families on the marsh, while a crow took over the pursuit of the buzzard. On the bank of the Ginge brook, we could see the effect of Himalayan Balsam in the muddy bare patches. It was a very pleasant walk alongside the A34, then round the bottom of the meadow back to the little bridge over the stream. It was an opportunity for some botanical identification. We watched a roe deer, disturbed by some dogs, and then stopped at the bridge. Jo though that this vole site had been deserted because of the floods, but suddenly a vole swam out from the bank and dived. Two or three of our party saw it to great delight. A few minutes later, a nose appeared at a hole and the vole made a dash for better cover under accumulated branches – so we nearly all saw it.

Well done and thank you Jo.  

Hugh Summers