Nick is one of our dedicated water vole volunteers and has worked as part of this thrilling community project for the last couple of years.
We caught up with Nick to talk about her experiences and what she thinks we can do to bring this charismatic species back to the Hogsmill River.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Nick and I’ve lived in and around Kingston-Upon-Thames almost all my life. My mother was a very keen birdwatcher and very knowledgable about our native flora and fauna, consequently, my sister and I were taken all over the country to see birds and rare wildflowers which really didn’t impress me much (I was happy mucking about in a river) until we went to the Brecon Beacons in Wales to see red kites when I was about 14. It was the biggest and most beautiful raptor I had seen until then, so I became totally enthralled. Since then I have always had a love and interest in nature in all its forms.
How and why did you become involved in this exciting Water Vole rewilding project?
Three years ago I attended a training course in order to volunteer at Kingston University in conjunction with the Zoological Society of London. We monitored the size and number of elvers returning to The Hogsmill with an eel trap. This led to another training course and I now also do a monthly Riverfly invertebrate count to keep an eye on the water quality in our river as they are a good indicator. Last year I heard about this project and as I remember water voles in the river in my youth, I would love to see these endearing animals back so I decided to volunteer.
Could you tell us a little more about your role and experiences with the project?
I have really enjoyed being involved with this project, the other volunteers are full of enthusiasm and we have had fun in the first place surveying the river for suitable and unsuitable habitat in September last year, then building and deploying 10 mammal footprint rafts in the river catchment and weekly monitoring of the rafts for any American Mink prints appearing.
Why do you think the community should be involved in such a vital project?
The community can be our eyes and ears out on the riverbanks and in turn, will notice a lot more wildlife promoting well-being and happy communities.
What does the return of the water vole along the Hogsmill river mean to you?
I just love them from their beady eyes to the ‘plop’ sound they make when diving into the river to escape predators.
Help us raise funds for this incredible project and check out our fundraising campaign below to make a donation!