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How to take part

The NWVMP is an online survey, so you will be able to register as a water vole surveyor, select your site to visit, enter details about it, then submit your annual sightings all via these webpages.

The first step to taking part is to complete a short registration form with your contact details and your water vole monitoring experience. Once you have successfully registered, you will be able to select a site to survey. If you are already surveying a site, then you will be able to register this site with the survey.

The second part of the survey will be to visit your site and plan your survey route, survey your site in May and then submit your records online.

We recommend that you read our guide to taking part below first about what each step involves and why. Once you are happy with what is expected you can then register to take part.

Thank you.

+ Selecting a site to survey (pre-selected sites)

We have carefully selected nearly 900 sites across England, Scotland and Wales that were surveyed during the two past Vincent Wildlife Trust surveys. It is really important to go back to these original sites to get robust data on how the population of water voles in the UK is faring.

After registering as a surveyor you will be able to select one or more of these sites by entering your postcode/town on our Google map. After you have selected a site it will no longer be available for another volunteer to choose.

Next, you will need to visit your chosen site in advance of the survey in May and plan your 500m survey route or ‘transect’. See details below.

+ Registering a current site (new sites)

If you are already surveying a site or number of sites for water voles, you can add them to the NWVMP once you have registered as a surveyor. Each site should ideally have a continuous 500m transect that can be surveyed annually to tie in with the other sites that will be surveyed. However, if this is not possible then a shorter transect (any denomination of 100m) can be surveyed. We would also encourage you to take on one of the other original sites too so that we can try and get as many of these sites monitored each year.

Please note that to register a site that you are already surveying, you will need to know:

  • The grid reference of your site
  • The county your site is in
  • The name of your site
  • Habitat of the site and waterway type
  • Number of transects at the site and their start and end grid references
  • Whether mink are controlled at the site
  • Whether water voles have been reintroduced at the site

Once you have successfully registered your site, you will be all set to carry out your survey in May. See details at the bottom of this page.

+ Visiting your site and planning your survey route

Before carrying out your survey you will need to visit your chosen site so you can:

Complete the site information form

We will ask you to complete a form with the following information:
• The habitat your site is in
• The water way type you will be surveying along
• Whether you know if there has been a water vole reintroduction at the site
• Total number of transects at the site (for most sites this will be one)
• Whether mink control happens at the site

Plan where your survey route will start and end

You will need to survey one bank of a 500m stretch of waterway (transect) at your site, recording any field signs within each 100m section. We recommend you also test walk your planned route to check it is suitable, measure out the distance and record the start and end grid references (instructions will be given).

Get permission from the landowner and give them the landowner questionnaire

You MUST get permission from the landowner if you need to enter private land to conduct your survey. We will provide a landowner permission letter for you to print out and take with you which identifies you to landowners and explains what you are doing.

Please also give the landowner a copy of our landowner questionnaire and ask them to complete it and return to us at our freepost address.

+ Carrying out your survey

To carry out your survey you will need to:

Time your survey correctly

You must survey your site during May. Surveys can be conducted on any day during May and at any time of the day. Your survey should take about 45 mins – 1 hour to complete.

Surveys should not be conducted during times of flooding or heavy rain. Please wait at least two days after the water levels have subsided to allow field signs to accumulate and be visible.

Ensure you take the correct equipment with you

Please ensure you take all the equipment listed in the guidelines (provided later) with you when you go to do your survey e.g. printed maps, guides and forms, a mobile phone. No specialist equipment is needed.

Walk your transect recording any water vole, otter and mink field signs

In each 100m section of your transect you will need to record all feeding signs (each pile of chopped vegetation counts as one), latrines (trampled and untrampled piles of dropppings), burrows/nests and sightings on your survey form. An ID guide will be given.

The grid reference/GPS position of the first and last latrine in each 100m section must be recorded as a minimum. Again the guidelines give simple instructions how to do this.

If you see signs of otter (spraint/sightings) or mink (scats/sightings) and are certain of your identification, you will also record these in the relevant section of the recording form provided.

+ Completing your survey

Ensure your recording forms are complete

You will need to make sure all relevant sections of the paper recording forms are completed when you finish walking your transect.

Submit your records online

Back at home/work you MUST enter your records online to make all your efforts pay off. Please submit all your records by the 31st October each year. Even if you didn’t find any signs of animals during your surveys we would still like you to submit your negative records.

If you have any further questions please take a look at our FAQs page.

You can now register here to take part. Thank you.

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