One of the Friends of Wom Brook’s primary aims is to monitor sightings of the resident water voles along the brook in Wombourne. The above photo was taken by Richard Claxton while he was recently videoing one of the Wom Brook Walk’s water voles.
Why is the water vole so important?
Water voles are identified by the UK government as an endangered species, with numbers rather alarmingly having declined by 90% in the last ten years. In addition to being hunted for food by predators such as buzzards, mink also prey on water voles. Dogs and cats can also hunt them, and sections of their natural habitat along the banks of the brook in Wombourne have on occasions been invaded by over-zealous dogs burrowing into the soil in an attempt to reach them.
Some horse riders, blissfully unaware that they are also in breach of a local by-law by riding their mounts along the Wom Brook Walk, permit their animals to erode the banks of the brook in giving them access to the water.
In an attempt to halt the rapid decline in water vole numbers, legislation was introduced in 2008 that empowers the Environment Agency/Natural England to impose a fine of Â£5000 on any individual or organisation found to be endangering either the lives or the habitat of the water vole.
Hopefully these measures, as well as actively conserving local habitats such as the Wom Brook in Wombourne will help to arrest the rapid decline in water vole numbers, and ensure Kenneth Grahame’s famous ‘Ratty’ (from the book, ‘The Wind in the Willows’) remains a reality and not just a character in a book.
You can view all of Richard’s video footage on YouTube-click on the this link