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Nature The Winner As Set-aside Area Of Highland Capital Bustling With Wildlife

8th November 2023

Photograph of Nature The Winner As Set-aside Area Of Highland Capital Bustling With Wildlife

Highland Council's continued commitment to biodiversity has been rewarded with plants and mammals thriving in a set-aside area of Inverness.

Boswell Park is an area of grassland, in which the Council has deliberately reduced grass cutting frequency for biodiversity purposes.

Last year the Amenities Team found species of wildflowers growing and this year operatives were delighted to find numerous families of field voles in the area.

The grass in this area is normally mowed just twice a year, however after discovering the tiny residents the team ceased cutting operations. They will resume now the breeding season is over.

Chair of Highland Council's Communities and Place Committee, Cllr Graham Mackenzie, said: "This is fantastic news and testament to the value of changing our approach to how we manage pieces of land for the promotion of wildlife and flora."

Field voles can produce litters of four to six young and are normally born between April and September. Each female can have up to seven litters a year. The young are weaned by three weeks, when the female abandons the nest and finds a new territory where she will breed again.

Field voles have grey/brown fur on their backs and creamy-grey fur on their undersides. Their tails are much shorter than the bank vole, and fur is shaggier, covering the ears. They have a rounded snout and less prominent eyes than mice. Their ears are also furry. They are between 90-115mm in size. Their average life span is up to one year.

Conservation Status

Field voles are very widespread and are currently thought to be the most common British mammal; a recent population estimate put the number of field voles in Britain at 75,000,000.

Although the field vole is numerous, it is still important to consider conservation methods and maintain biodiversity within habitats, not least because field voles are so important to owls and other predators.

Leaving wide field margins beside hedgerows provides cover and food which will encourage and maintain populations. Long grass on roadside verges is also important. A varied woodland area will encourage small mammals and groups of branches should be left when clearing patches of ground.

Field voles have been found thriving in set-aside areas of Inverness