ABP South Wales joins Gwent Wildlife Trust to survery water voles at Magor Marsh

April 19, 2017

On Thursday 13th April, six employees from ABP South Wales spent a day with Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) at Magor Marsh, helping the conservation charity start its spring survey of the water vole population at the SSSI nature reserve.

ABP South Wales has been a corporate member of GWT since 2015 and has recently donated £3,000 to support the charity’s work on the Gwent Levels. Now, employees are being given the chance to see the impact of that support, and get their hands dirty helping out on the ground.

The team of volunteer conservationists included staff from both the Newport and Cardiff ports, who joined GWT’s water vole project officers Alice Rees and Lowri Watkins and marketing manager, Debbie Stenner to get ‘down and dirty’ in the ditches, looking for signs of the endangered mammal.

After a briefing about the project and training in spotting the signs of water vole activity, the team spent the afternoon searching amongst the ditch and reen habitats for feeding remnants, latrines, burrows and footprints. Many of these were recorded, indicating a healthy population of water vole had survived the winter.

ABPs Liga Karklina was the only one lucky enough to actually spot a water vole on the day. “I was just moving my hand to look closer at a burrow when it scurried right past my hand and plopped into the water! I was so pleased to have caught a glimpse of one, as I’ve never seen a water vole before.”

Matthew Kennerley, ABP Director South Wales said: “ABP and the port of Newport takes its responsibility to the environment seriously. We’re proud to be a partner of the Gwent Wildlife Trust, who have an essential role to play in protecting the region’s wildlife and we are fully committed to supporting its work. I’m delighted that the team had a productive, informative and enjoyable day.”

Alice Rees, conservation officer at Gwent Wildlife Trust, has been leading the highly successful water vole reintroduction project since 2014. She told us, “It’s really important that we survey the water vole population at this time, to find out how well the population have survived the winter, when food supply is scare and its many predators hungry. We talked about the importance of being able to distinguish between a rat and a water vole and why we need to protect this iconic British mammal and keystone species. The interest and enthusiasm of the team was so encouraging to me, and we’re delighted that they’re going to share what they’ve learned amongst colleagues.”

Debbie Stenner, Marketing Manager said, “ABP are playing a very important role in supporting our vision for people close to nature, in a landscape rich in wildlife. We particularly welcome the support of business who, like ABP, would like to engage their people in learning more about our local wildlife and how to protect it for all our benefit.”