Excerpt from Tame Valley Wetlands Website

   As part of our ‘Ratty’s Return’ project, Tame Valley Wetlands have been working with our partners to get the area ready for the return of ‘Ratty’ the water vole. During May 2017 we have carried out two areas of bank improvements at strategic sites where water voles were once found.

Ladywalk Nature Reserve – 175m of bank improvements

   Working with West Midland Bird Club, we have started work on an area where water voles used to be found. The ditch line runs 600m north south through the reserve. Working together in partnership, we have focused on a 175m stretch of ditch.  Volunteers from West Midland Bird Club and our Tameforce volunteers spent three days transforming a Himalayan balsam jungle into an area which will again provide habitat for this cute mammal.  Firstly, the Himalayan balsam was strimmed and pulled out to prevent it from growing.  This non-native species can dominate a landscape, making it hard for our native plant species to survive.  Native plant species are an essential food source for water voles and provide important cover for their burrow entrance.

   We then used pre-planted coir pallets (filled with Ratty’s favourite food plants) to line and stabilise some of the ditch banks.  Where the banks were too steep, we planted marginal plug plants including purple loosestrife, flag iris, water mint, water forget-me-knot, grasses and sedges. Steep slopes are good for water voles to burrow into but it is important to get good vegetation cover to hide their entrances.

Coir pallets being collected from Tame Valley Wetlands offices

Banks planted with coir pallets

Ditch cleared of Himalayan Balsam and planted with marginal plug plants