Glasgow community group rescues endangered water vole in Sandaig Park


A GLASGOW community group came to the rescue of an endangered species unique to the East End while taking part in a tree planting event.

Friends of Springboig and Barlanark Greenspaces (FSBG) planted trees and wildflowers in Sandaig Park in their first in-person activity since training in lockdown.

Treasurer Shona Johnston said, “We are a group of people who are passionate about our local areas and making them areas the community can be proud of.

“Our group listens to the views of local residents regarding any improvements they may need in the areas, which will improve their health, well-being and community spirit.”

Photo credit: Robyn Lewis

During the event, they discovered an injured water vole and alerted Catherine Scott, Glasgow City Council‘s biodiversity officer.

Ms Scott said: ‘Sandaig Park is a great place to see water voles and you can often see them outside, but this animal has been above ground for much longer than usual.

“I could get close enough to see that although he looked a healthy size, he had damage to one eye and was definitely not behaving normally.”

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Ms. Scott was concerned about the vole, which has an exclusive population in the area.

She said: “A lot of my work is with water voles, as northeast Glasgow is home to a unique urban population of this protected species.

“Grassland-dwelling water voles are a very unusual behavior in the UK and Sandaig Park has a population of these ‘grassland’ water voles.”

Glasgow Times: Photo credit: Robyn LewisPhoto credit: Robyn Lewis

The FSBG was joined by volunteers from the environmental groups Seven Lochs Project and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), who helped ensure the water vole was taken care of.

Ms Scott added: “If you find injured wildlife you should always seek expert advice. In this case, I phoned Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust, who although temporarily closed at the time were still available to provide advice.

“It’s important to consider both the animal’s safety and your own safety. In this case, the ever resourceful TCV was able to transform its plastic tea box into a secure carrying case, complete with essential air holes.

Glasgow Times: Volunteers at Sandaig tree planting eventVolunteers at tree planting event in Sandaig

The water vole was left in the care of an experienced volunteer, a Hessilhead, and is said to be recovering from his injury.

Ms Scott said: ‘It’s impossible to know exactly what happened but, in this case, it appears the water vole probably encountered a natural predator and, although injured, managed to escape. ‘escape.

“So this is a very lucky vole that escaped a predator and was found and saved.”

Glasgow hours:

Since the rescue, Ms Johnston has been excited about the work the new group will continue to do to revive and improve the area.

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She said: “Since our inception, we have carried out litter pick-ups in Barlanark and Springboig.

“We have a litter collection coming up on May 21 the full length of Hallhill Road and everyone is welcome to join.

“In addition to this, we have provided improvements to Budhill Playground and Sandaig Park.

“As we are a new group, not many people know about us, but we hope to change that soon and make the communities of Barlanark and Springboig thriving again.”

You can find out more about the group here.

For more information on water voles in Glasgow, click here.

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