August 10, 2007

Voles

A couple of years ago (2005), the Willamette Valley, our farm included, was overrun with voles, a small meadow mouse. At this time that year, you'd see them every 10 ft, and the dogs loved to pounce every time I picked something up off the ground, revealing their hidey holes.

That winter, kestrels, black-shouldered kites, and red-tailed hawks spent lots of time patrolling the farm. Then come February, heavy rains pretty much wiped out the rest of the population, as high water forced them to all pack together in the higher ground. Disease, cold, and probably general disatisfaction with the crowded conditions did them in.

In the summer of 2006, I didn't find a single vole burrow, the population collapse was so complete. Likewise, very few raptors spent any time on the farm that winter.

This summer, I'm beginning to see them make their comeback...I haven't seen any in the open yet, but their burrows are becoming more common. As long as they don't girdle my trees, or decimate the clover crop like they did in 2005, I'm content with them, since they aerate the pastures, and I always like to see raptors.

All that is a lead in to this article on Spain's plague of voles. Considering that they spend most of their time underground, I doubt that burning them out is going to have much of an effect. (via atrios, a political blog, of all places)

Posted by rich at August 10, 2007 11:29 AM
Comments

You need more kitties. I've been perplexed over the identity of the vole for years. Have you read it is in fact a mouse? The closest I've come to a def. is that it is a member of the rodent family, but it seems to be unique, not quite a mole, not quite a rat, or anything else...and I'm still not sure I know one when I see one.

Posted by: Kat at August 29, 2007 02:07 PM

Hi Kat

Voles are closely related to lemmings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voles_and_lemmings

They kindof look like a small pocket gopher

I haven't seen them march off into the sea at our place, but the sea is a little ways off.....

Posted by: rich at August 29, 2007 02:50 PM