The water vole – Ratty in Kenneth Graeme's Wind in the Willows – has made a remarkable comeback after coming close to extinction. A survey at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, found colonies up to 2,000 strong last month. Fewer than ten of the water-loving mammals were found at the same site as recently as 2007. Work on improving the habitat for water voles in Somerset and Devon is being carried out by the South West branch of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
Rare fungus found
A rare fungi which could hold huge potential in medical research has been discovered on pony dung in a Norfolk forest. The nail fungus (Poronia punctata) had not been recorded in the county since 1944 and until recently was only known in the UK in the New Forest. Forestry Commission ecologists are "delighted" by the find in Thetford Forest. Heathland restoration and management of the rough ground grazed by organic ponies has created the perfect conditions for the rare fungus.
Farming and wildlife
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust is celebrating 20 years of its Allerton Project which practices wildlife friendly agriculture at its farm at Loddington, Leicestershire. Last week a special event was held with Farming Minister Jim Paice, who also helped to mark 21 years of LEAF (Linking the Environment and Farming) which promotes sustainable farming.