Up close and personal with small mammals

My second week at Titchfield Haven was similar to my first. I spent 2 days with the regular weekly volunteers, a day mostly out on the reserve, and helped out with another event. This time, it was a Mammal Walk with Nick (one of the rangers). Some Longworth traps had been set up the night before, so during the walk these traps were checked, and the mammals found were released. These traps are used for mammal surveys, and food is placed inside them to encourage individuals in, and to ensure they survive the night.

We were rather fortunate as all of the traps had been triggered, which isn’t always the case. A number of different species were found – Bank Vole, Yellow-necked Mouse and Wood Mouse.  We were also lucky enough to see one of the many Water Voles which now thrive in the reserve and surrounding area!

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)

Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis)

Yellow-necked Mouse (Apodemus flavicollis) – you can just see the yellow band around its neck.

Yellow-necked Mice and Wood Mice are very similar, but the Yellow-necked Mouse is slightly larger with larger ears, protruding eyes and a longer tail. It also has a band of yellow fur covering its neck area – as the name suggests. 

Another method used for surveying an area for mammals is a tunnel used to record footprints. In the middle of the tunnel is bait – bird seed or something similar – and either side of this is a strip of ink so when the animal leaves, it leaves a trail of footprints. These can then be identified.

Example of the inside of the tunnel. Footprints are left on the sheets of paper and the bait is in the middle.

Example of the inside of the tunnel. Footprints are left on the sheets of paper and the bait is in the middle.

P1100142 Footprints

Close up of one of the sheets of paper. We think the footprints are from Grey Squirrels (and birds!)

As well as mammals, we also saw several Slow Worms that were under some corrugated iron sheets.  

male & female Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis). The female is the one with the dark vertebral stripe.

male & female Slow-worm (Anguis fragilis). The female is the one with the dark vertebral stripe.

Other wildlife to note was a Common Lizzard at Upper Haven. This is part of Titchfield Haven owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and isn’t open to the public. I’ve been lucky enough to explore it as we’re helping the Trust replace the fence line so that grazing can continue.

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) at Upper Haven

Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) at Upper Haven

Part of the completed fence line at Upper Haven. Fencing is one of the many skills I feel I'm getting the hang of now!

Part of the completed fence line at Upper Haven. Fencing is one of the many skills I feel I’m getting the hang of now!

In terms of birds, once again I’ve not had much time on the reserve to be birding as rangers mainly do practical tasks, however, on Friday I did do another high tide count. The numbers of waders present seemed lower this time, perhaps due to the weather as it was rather windy. The combined total of waders for the Scrapes around high tide was:

28 Oystercatchers
46 Black-tailed Godwits
3 Redshank
6 Avocets
14 Lapwing

There were also 60+ Turnstone on a raft in the river & on shingle at Hill Head, 1 Kingfisher (South Scrape) and an Osprey earlier in the day.

 

 

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