Friday, 20 March 2009

A bit about voles, and whose nest is this?

I've been working very hard in the garden all week, making the most of this glorious spring weather. In the hay barn I found a nest which had been made, then abandoned, last spring. I know who made it - any guesses out there as to its owner? It is beautifully crafted and SO cosy inside and was built inside a haynet hanging from the beams . . . .

Out in the new intake veg/soft fruit area in the paddock, I have laid down old bits of carpet to try and kill the grass a little before I dig it. Yesterday Lucy, our one-eyed cat, could hear the voles beneath it so I rolled it back and found a little vole-town. I took some photos of one part of it - and how easy to build an extension to your home!

First of all the bedroom, cosily lined with chewed up bits of grass woven into a bowl-shape and SO snug.

Then there are the runs in-between the "rooms" - no need for a roof with a carpet on top, but normally they just go beneath the top layer of longish grass. My cats spend hours hunting in the paddock now it is overgrown.

Finally, the loo. If you look in the centre between the two stems forming a V, you can see droppings. I never knew they were such tidy creatures, and clean in their habits.

Next time one of the cats brings one home, I shall think of the family it left behind . . .

Here's Lucy sniffing them out!


  1. Is it a swallow nest? I just love that picture. Artistic bird! I am reading Green Grass by Raffaella Barker and she mentions using ferrets to, well, ferret out rabbits. Is that common over there? And why are there so many rabbits anyhow? Is it the terrain, the soil, the open areas? I'm interested in why some places seem to have an overabundance and others rarely see any (like me). We've always had some black cats over the years - Beauchamp, Alexander, Alice, Trilby, Soot are the names. :<)

  2. I'll spill the beans on Monday nan, when more folk have had a time to check in (Saturday is always quiet). Ferreting is quite common in country areas, and rabbits VERY much so, although Myxamatosis still breaks out when their numbers get to the proportions where they re-use old burrows and get re-infected again. I think they were introduced by the Romans, and our climate suits them. I know they like soil easy enough to dig, and well-drained so they often put their burrows on banks/sloping land, and of course, plenty for them to scoff.

  3. I think it might be a wren nest, although the hole may be too big. Very glad to see that Lucy one eye is better and outside enjoying life again.


  4. We too have many voles, although I believe they may be a different species than yours. They are a favorite food of hawks and great horned owls, as well as coyotes. They often make tunnels under the snow, and as the snow melts the paths and rooms are exposed, as in your post.

    Can't guess about the nest, although I'm interested to hear what it is.

  5. Jayne - you were right, it's a wren's nest. I shall keep an eye open and see where they are nesting this year, as they re-use our stables and barns each year. The haynets have been taken down now so they will have to go under the eaves or something.

    Kate - our voles are pretty titchy. We have Tawny Owls who hunt at night across the paddock, and call to each other very noisily! In fact, on my walk yesterday, I heard one hooting in daytime, which is a first for me - not one of "our" owls though, but about a mile or so from home.