Have you ever seen a vole in London? Would you even know if you had? Most Londoners probably wouldn't recognise a vole if they saw one, but London Wildlife Trust is trying to change that.
Vole Patrol is a new initiative to investigate how small mammals such as mice and voles are faring in the west of the capital, at sites in Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
Very little is currently known about these species because so few people recognise them or report sightings, but it's believed that several species of small mammal are on the decline in London due to the loss of their woodland habitats.
Species under investigation by London Wildlife Trust include the wood mouse, our most common rodent, the yellow-necked mouse, which is only found in southern Britain, the bank vole, and common and pygmy shrews — the latter of which weighs no more than six grams, so it's no wonder they're tricky to pick out in a crowd.
None of these species are currently listed as conservation priorities, although shrews are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It's hoped that information gained from this project will help to support these species in the long term.
London Wildlife Trust will be recruiting for volunteers for the project soon. Keep an eye on the website for details.
Interested in urban wildlife? Come along to our London is...Wild event at Conway Hall on 2 November. Experts including London Wildlife Trust's director of conservation Mathew Frith and urban bat detective Kate Jones will be discussing the beasts and birds of London. More information here.