National Water Vole Monitoring Programme FAQs
- + Why do I need to do my survey between 15th April and 15th June?
We usually ask you to survey your site between 15th April and 15th June as this is the easiest time to survey for water voles. However, this year (2021) due to rain and high water levels, we are extending the survey period for 2021 to 15th July.
- + Why are there pre-selected sites?
The sites we have selected were all surveyed during the Vincent Wildlife Trust water vole surveys in the 1990s. Not only do we have historical data from these surveys for each site but the sites were selected to ensure that there was a good geographic coverage and to include all different types of habitat. We are asking you to survey these sites as this will allow us to see what has happened at each site since the surveys in the 1990s.
- + I’m already monitoring a site for water voles, can it be included in the survey?
Yes, if you are already monitoring a site for water voles then we would encourage you to register your site with the monitoring programme so that your data can be included in the annual analysis. Once you have registered to take part in the programme, you will then be able to select that you would like to register a new site and fill in a short form with some details about your site. Your site will then be added to the online map of sites and will have its own information page.
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) or multiple shorter transects 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.
- + Can I choose my own site?
We would encourage you to choose one of the pre-selected sites, as not only do we have historical data on these sites, but they were initially randomly selected which gives statistical robustness to our analysis.
However, if there aren’t any pre-selected sites near you and you know of a site which has the capacity to survey a 500m transect then you can register it as a new site, so that any data can be included in the annual analysis.
- + Why do I need to walk a 500m transect?
500m is the standard length of waterway recommended to be surveyed for water voles in the Water Vole Conservation Handbook. Female water vole territories are typically around 100m, so by surveying 500m you can attempt to detect multiple water voles if they are present.
- + What time commitment is required?
Before doing your survey we recommend that you visit your site, to plan your transect, get the landowners permission and fill in the site information form. You will then need to do one survey each year between 15th April and 15th June as a minimum. Your survey should only take 45 mins-1 hour. Due to rain and high water levels, we are extending the survey period for 2021 to 15th July.
- + Can I survey more than one site?
Yes, you can survey as many sites as you have sufficient time to do. You will need to visit each site before doing your survey and record some simple information about the site, as well as plan your survey and ask the landowner for permission to enter their land. Each site will need to be surveyed once between 15th April and 15th June and surveys should take about 45 mins-1 hour.
- + Why is the survey not taking place in Ireland?
Water voles do not live in Ireland. They are present in mainland Britain, as well as a few offshore island, including Anglesey, the Isle of Wight and the Sound of Jura Islands.
- + What should I do if I can’t find the landowner/can’t get permission?
Often the easiest way to find the landowner is to knock on the door of the nearest house to your waterway and enquire. The home owner may either own the land or they may know who the landowner is. If you still cannot locate the landowner please contact our NWVMP coordinator at email@example.com . If you are not given permission to do your survey, please contact us so we can update our site records and also assign you an alternative site to survey.
- + Is there a certain time of day that I should do my survey?
No. You can go at any time during daylight hours that suits you and / or the landowner.
- + What do I need to submit at the end of my survey?
Once you have completed your survey, you will need to submit your records using our online survey form. You can access this form by logging on at www.ptes.org/watervoles, clicking through to your site’s profile page and then selecting ‘Complete survey data’ for each transect. If you have taken any photos or marked the location of field signs on your map you can also upload these documents when you submit your records.
- + I have seen a water vole/evidence of a water vole while out walking. How do I tell you about it?
By asking people to survey a 500m length of waterway, we are standardising the information we collect, meaning we can more easily compare results across sites and years. One-off (or ‘casual’) sightings are still very useful, but we do not collect these. Instead, these can be reported to your Local Environmental Records Centre. They will then be able to add it to their records and feed the information into the National Water Vole Database and Mapping Project which is run by The Wildlife Trusts. You can find your local records centre here.
- + Do you have any health and safety guidelines?
Please read the PTES health and safety guidelines for volunteers. There are also specific health and safety guidelines for this survey including in the National Water Vole Monitoring Programme Survey Guidelines.