Blakey Topping

A rewarding day on Thompson’s Rigg with the constant backdrop of Blakey Topping. The task was to install water vole fencing along Crosscliff Beck. Now that is not fencing to keep the water voles in but to keep sheep out. Water voles are one of our rarest native mammals and have suffered a sharp decline in numbers due to predation by the American mink, escapees from 1960s mink farms. There are historical records of water voles in Crosscliff Beck but none in recent years. It is thought they had been predated by mink which indeed had been seen. However, there are contemporary signs, spraints or droppings, that there are otters around. Otters are the larger animals and can out-compete mink for food and territory and are now displacing mink along riverbanks across the country. So it’s fairly safe to assume if there are otters then there are no mink. Now there is a water vole population in a neighbouring tributary so the plan is to create sheep free enclosures along the stream to allow repopulation. Sheep closely crop the vegetation and cause a breakdown of the banks.
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