Diana Beale of Cobnor Estate arranged a walk with Louise Parker from The Environment Agency. This included a guided tour with Louise to look at water vole haunts among Cobnor’s marshes as well as a sneak peek at a barn owl and her chicks via a nest box camera.
When she joined a group of wildlife enthusiasts at Cobnor House, Katy was told about the habitat-creation project that’s helping to re-introduce and protect water voles in the local area. Not only did our West Sussex copywriter hear all about Cobnor’s conservation efforts but she also got the opportunity to see tell-tale signs of the adorable creatures including water vole latrines, feeding stations and runways in vegetation.
As well as being a legally protected species, water voles are Britain’s most endangered mammal. In fact, as many as 94% voles have disappeared from their former sites as a result of predation by the introduced American Mink, habitat degradation and pollution.
Careful bank side management is just one of the conservation efforts taken seriously at Cobnor and Diana and her team are also keeping a close eye on predators with a view to giving our lovely native water voles a fighting chance.
Water voles have been gradually re-introduced to the local area over the last few years and as a result of Cobnor’s last water vole survey, there were estimated to be 17 water voles living locally.
Did you know that the water vole, which is often wrongly identified for the rat, inspired the character of Ratty in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows? They are around the same size but water voles have rounder faces, smaller ears and are very sweet indeed.
After learning all about water voles, Chichester Copywriter walked back through the lovely woods on the Cobnor Estate where she saw active beehives and heard fantastic facts about tree conservation.
Katy then experienced her favourite part of the walk…She was shown a box in the rafters of a barn containing a nesting barn owl and then given real insight into the life of this majestic bird via a nest box camera. A beautiful female barn owl could be seen brooding chicks, averaging around one week old. When the owl lifted her wings she revealed three healthy owlets with gorgeous white down. This was truly magical and fantastic fodder for Katy’s creative writing projects.