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John's Mammals 2018 (1 Viewer)

bustersymes

Active member
Water Shrews at Fowlmere

Water Shrews have shown regularly for at least the last couple of days at Fowlmere RSPB, Cambs. They are rather distant (given their size) so not great for photos, but thought it was worth mentioning since they aren't usually easy to see. If you could be bothered to bring a telescope you would get good views! They are viewable from the Drewer Hide and are coming out and feeding on the muddy channel as you look half left from the hide. Record shots attached!
 

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bustersymes

Active member
Pigeon for breakfast

Seems like I interrupted someone's breakfast! Stoat at Fowlmere RSPB, Cambs this morning.
 

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bustersymes

Active member
Stoaty McStoatface

Yesterday's Stoat was along the first stretch of boardwalk as you walk from the car park towards Spring and Reedbed hides. Around 9.15am.

Five weeks ago at least two were showing regularly a little further along the main track, between Spring Hide and the turnoff to Reedbed Hide, but they don't seem to be quite so active on this stretch at the moment. They were searching for birds' nests and I watched one go a good 30 feet up a tree searching each branch methodically - I know this is fairly regular behaviour but I'd certainly never seen it before!

Good luck if you go - let us know how you get on!
 

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bustersymes

Active member
In case anyone was still tempted by Fowlmere for Water Shrew, it seems that their appearances have tailed off since the weekend so it may be that the opportunity has passed. A guy I spoke to did have lengthy views of a Stoat in front of the hide first thing this morning (which may or may not have contributed to the lack of shrews!)
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Apologies, its been a busy week: I was at Fowlmere on Monday looking for both Stoats and Water Shrews.

I've never had to work so hard there for any mammals at all! Clare saw three Fallow Deer (2 + 1) all of which shot off so fast I missed them: we heard a Muntjac barking but couldn't find it, and late afternoon I had a two-second view of a Water Shrew along the trout stream. Water Shrew was claimed from the Drewer Hide early morning but a chap who'd been in the hide since at least 0700 knew nothing about the sighting.

Normally there's a good deal of rustling in the grasses and reeds and you can find Bank Voles, Wood Mice and Common Shrews fairly readily, but Monday the place was silent. My perception is that this year there is a severe shortage of all small mammals and anecdotal evidence is that the heatwave has knocked out quite a lot that don't live very close to permanent water sources: but that doesn't apply at Fowlmere. Do others think there has been a small mammal crash?

I would also normally expect to see Rabbits around the reserve - I've got down to a few yards with them along the stream in the past - but none were visible and droppings were practically non-existent. This actually gels with the Stoats birds-nesting. The Mammal Society booklet on Stoats and Weasels states that this is a fall-back when Rabbits and in Weasels' case mice etc have crashed - but that it is ineffective in preventing a following crash of the predatory species. Next year may be a bit thin for sightings of Stoats and Weasels.

John
 

peter.jones

Registered User
Supporter
Hi John, that was me there from early doors. There was someone already on the reserve when I arrived, so the early sighting was good.

I would have loved to see Water Shrew, (which would be a first for me), but saw Stoat instead from the Drewer hide, late afternoon.. it performed quite well!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8v7Crp_hss

Also, thanks Bustersymes, for the head's up. Although it was an unsuccessful trip for me, it was an enjoyable day.

Peter
 
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Farnboro John

Well-known member
Thanks to Bustersymes from me too, had an enjoyable day out. Apart from the Spotted Flycatcher family near Spring Hide the dragonflies were the highlight - I've never seen so many Southern Hawkers in a small area, and we had a male hanging up for photos. Ruddy Darter was a year tick (put me on 30 Odonata this year) and a very small male also posed for photos on the railings at the ditch crossing between pond-dipping and Spring Hide.

Peter: nice to put a face to a name and I'm glad your marathon stakeout had some result! If Fowlmere is an easy destination for you then spending time along the trout stream is probably the best bet there for Water Shrew. Otherwise The Lodge, Sandy has a few small ponds (Jack's Pond is a name I remember but there are one or two more) that are fairly reliable sites as well.

Cheers

John
 

bustersymes

Active member
Hi Peter and John

Sorry you had no luck with the shrews but glad there were a few other bits to keep you entertained!

Interesting thoughts about mammal numbers. Rabbits are certainly at a low ebb in the local area (tying in with the national trend as recently reported), and my highly-trained Field Vole surveyor (AKA the dog) tells me numbers are currently low on Therfield Heath. I didn't know about the theory that Stoats and Weasels move more to birds when mammal numbers are low - very interesting!

I'll keep you updated if there's anything more of interest mammal-wise at Fowlmere.

Cheers
Andy
 

peter.jones

Registered User
Supporter
Cheers John, we also have a "new" local reserve, Fishlake Meadows, now open in Romsey. I have a feeling that the improved access will yield some results over time. Currently there is one record of a deceased Water Shrew from a couple of years back.
It's good to have an ongoing challenge! Even better to eventually see one.

Best of the Dragonflies for me was a Brown Hawker from the Drewer hide.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Out with the bat group last night in Alice Holt Forest, just on the Hampshire side of the border. Not a particularly busy night with a single Common Pipistrelle, four Brown Long-eared bats and to my personal delight, a Bechstein's Bat new for the year.

However, the jewel in the crown was a moth picked out of a mist net set across the main track in the hope of catching Barbastelles: none of those, but imagine the surprise when on the periodic inspection of the net a Clifden Nonpareil was tangled in it!!!

And gentlemen in England now abed, shall think themselves accursed they were not here.......

Pix in due course

John
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Pix of the Clifden Nonpareil (resized but otherwise unadjusted)

1-2 topside

3 Underwing

4 Who's a lucky boy then?

5 On the headlight

Stunning beast. And its far bigger than I expected!

John
 

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Farnboro John

Well-known member
Bat photos:

Bechstein's Bat

Brown Long-eared Bat being released

Bechstein's Bat again
 

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Farnboro John

Well-known member
The night after the bat trapping session I was off again (having crashed for a couple of hours at home after work on Friday) with Clare to meet Roy at Wendover Woods. After some discussion we settled on a meeting time of 2100, but the traffic on the M25 was unhelpful and we were 20 minutes late, with Roy texting before we arrived that he had a young Edible Dormouse just sitting on a tree waiting for us!

Fortunately when we arrived it was still waiting and wasn't fazed by camera flashes going off. It scuttled up and down the tree occasionally with all of us commenting that we'd never seen one so close to the ground. We thought it had a cache of nuts in a hollow between roots, but it turned out to be a water-filled hollow from which the dormouse was drinking.

After that we wandered about a bit, finding several more Edible Dormice sitting out or trotting happily along the tree branches, but it was all a bit anti-climactic and we knocked off at 2200 - unheard of!

John

Edible Dormouse X 5, No. 4 is an adult male eating a beechnut.
 

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crazyfingers

Well-known member
In Maine again this week.

Today I got one of my rarist animals to photograph and almost outside my door.

We have an old house in Maine.

I have walked across the street and down that field at least 50 times this week. Today at late afternoon to dusk I saw such a great critter. A porcupine. It has a very will traveled, and sat in, patch of tall grass just below a crabapple tree. I have no idea if he's been sitting there all week and I never noticed or if he only comes by from time to time.

Regardless, I visited him from time to time over about 90 minutes hoping to get a face shot. While he showed his backed to me many times, he never moved 3 feet from this spot below his crabapple tree and the several already on the ground and some eaten.

I will check later tonight and tomorrow if he just stays there with his apples. Literally it's a 20 second walk frim door to check on him.

He could have easily gone into the deep woods today but steadfastly chose not to do so.

Ps. 10pm now. I took a look. Not there. I did grab an apple off the tree. Took a bite or 5. Not crabapples at. More like uncultivated Granny Smiths, quite good but would used another week to ripen.

Photos. A nice view with eye showing.

His back to me.

For perspective, he and his apple tree are about 10 feet across the road on the right side of the field.

All posted from my tablet so sorry for typos.
 

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Sangahyando

Well-known member
Bat photos:

Bechstein's Bat

Brown Long-eared Bat being released

Bechstein's Bat again
Nice. Still trying to encounter these two species in particular. Although I've had eight bat species - Noctule, Serotine, Daubenton's Bat, Pond Bat, Natterer's Bat, Common, Nathusius', and Soprano Pipistrelle - this year, all lifers (due to starting a list in the first place...).

Speaking of which, do you have any tips on finding dormice, voles (except Bank Voles, they'e more forthcoming somehow), polecats, badgers, and Pine Martens? I seem to have trouble finding these animals in particular.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Nice. Still trying to encounter these two species in particular. Although I've had eight bat species - Noctule, Serotine, Daubenton's Bat, Pond Bat, Natterer's Bat, Common, Nathusius', and Soprano Pipistrelle - this year, all lifers (due to starting a list in the first place...).

Speaking of which, do you have any tips on finding dormice, voles (except Bank Voles, they'e more forthcoming somehow), polecats, badgers, and Pine Martens? I seem to have trouble finding these animals in particular.

Bechstein's and Brown Long-eared can be difficult without the benefit of bat researchers - if you know any, or if there is a bat group near you, get involved.

Dormice: which ones? Hazel Dormice are difficult but not impossible in the right habitat: look for winter nests in hazel stools. Find out what signs on chewed hazel nuts indicate dormice as opposed to mice or voles in order to establish where they are, then stake places out with passive night vision or use camera traps to localise them. Edible Dormice if present are a piece of cake, they are very vocal and can easily be spotlighted with red light (they shoot away from white light at high speed).

You are correct that Bank Voles are very forthcoming compared to other voles! Small mammal traps (Shermans or, for preference, Longworths) are the best bet. Other than that, baiting with piles of high energy food can work, but the trick is not to lose them to other feeding animals (or those pesky birds...) If you can find small mammal runs then baiting those, or the entrances to nests, can work. Drystone walls can hide a thousand rodents and voles will have trimmed the vegetation round their lairs.

If you find out any tricks for seeing polecats, tell me. I've only had one or two scamper across roads on night drives in habitat since the fabulous College Lake litter. Badgers are easier. Their setts are generally pretty obvious. Canal cuttings and steep river valleys with sandy or earth banks to dig in are a good place to start, my nearest canal has Badger setts in every cutting.

Pine Martens are really difficult unless you know someone who has them visiting a feeder or similar. Having said that, they can be attracted to feeders fairly easily if they are in the area. Eggs, peanuts, raisins, (jam and peanut butter are being recommended against by "experts" though I'm not sure of their reasoning). Foxes and Badgers will also take this largesse so the trick is to put it where only Pine Martens are likely to get to it.

Hope some of this helps!

John
 

Sangahyando

Well-known member
Bechstein's and Brown Long-eared can be difficult without the benefit of bat researchers - if you know any, or if there is a bat group near you, get involved.

Dormice: which ones? Hazel Dormice are difficult but not impossible in the right habitat: look for winter nests in hazel stools. Find out what signs on chewed hazel nuts indicate dormice as opposed to mice or voles in order to establish where they are, then stake places out with passive night vision or use camera traps to localise them. Edible Dormice if present are a piece of cake, they are very vocal and can easily be spotlighted with red light (they shoot away from white light at high speed).

You are correct that Bank Voles are very forthcoming compared to other voles! Small mammal traps (Shermans or, for preference, Longworths) are the best bet. Other than that, baiting with piles of high energy food can work, but the trick is not to lose them to other feeding animals (or those pesky birds...) If you can find small mammal runs then baiting those, or the entrances to nests, can work. Drystone walls can hide a thousand rodents and voles will have trimmed the vegetation round their lairs.

If you find out any tricks for seeing polecats, tell me. I've only had one or two scamper across roads on night drives in habitat since the fabulous College Lake litter. Badgers are easier. Their setts are generally pretty obvious. Canal cuttings and steep river valleys with sandy or earth banks to dig in are a good place to start, my nearest canal has Badger setts in every cutting.

Pine Martens are really difficult unless you know someone who has them visiting a feeder or similar. Having said that, they can be attracted to feeders fairly easily if they are in the area. Eggs, peanuts, raisins, (jam and peanut butter are being recommended against by "experts" though I'm not sure of their reasoning). Foxes and Badgers will also take this largesse so the trick is to put it where only Pine Martens are likely to get to it.

Hope some of this helps!

John
Thanks! That already helps a lot. Regarding the bats, I'm already involved in volunteer work, that's how I got "identifiable" views of any species in the first place.
I'm already quite pleased with my mammal year list so far, now at 25 (including ten lifers), but still there's a lot of the "common" native species I've yet to find. Don't care much for Raccoons and Raccoon Dogs, but even those are more difficult to see than their numbers would suggest.
I'm guessing that with badgers etc, one has to wait unit evening for them to come out?
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Roe and Fallow Deer in the New Forest on Saturday during a decent day out that involved an Ortolan, Richard's Pipit, Spotted Crake and an absurdly confiding Spotted Redshank as well as a shamefully late year-tick Greenshank.

Heads up: second recent report of Northern Bottlenose Whale off South Devon yesterday. Been there a while and not died - intriguing....

John
 

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