Restoring Ratty: Winter is on its way!

This frosty photo was taken whilst out raft monitoring last winter, when we discovered that whilst checking rafts in the freezing cold weather is beautiful; its also pretty futile as the clay freezes over and no prints can be seen!
Frosty survey

We asked for advice and were given some by the Trossachs Water Vole Project who recommended adding a scientific 'fair bit' of salt to our clay mixes to prevent the clay in the baskets from freezing and to enable us to still check rafts during the winter months.

We were also told about the 'ice cream tub' method, which Mel, Don, Dave and Fay trialled this week.  As the rivers and burns fill up over winter and damage our rafts, we always have to lift several of them each winter, which reduces our survey area.  Through using ice cream containers which fit neatly into the mink rafts, the volunteers we were able to construct a prototype clay basket which we hope will stay wet even though out of the water - and, therefore take a print from any interested animal passing through the housing. The container, being watertight and filled with water should keep the oasis, and thus the clay, wet. (Thanks Mel!)

Four of these were positioned this week and we shall see what results we get from them and keep you informed.

We do have a facebook page which we update weekly if you would like more information about our project