Eighteen keen naturalists met up at Rocksavage Nature Reserve to do some small mammal trapping.  A mix of CAN and Wirral & Cheshire Badger Group members took advantage of the mild weather to get their nature ‘fix’ before the impending arctic conditions arrive.  The purpose of the exercise was twofold, one, to get much-needed mammal records into the LRC and two, to familiarise as many potential mammal recorders with traps and trapping procedures.

Dr Bill Bellamy and Andy Harmer had prepared and set 70 traps late on Friday night. These included CAN’s 40 tube-traps and 30 Longworths kindly lent to CAN by Sarah Bird of Chester Zoo.  Plenty of bedding and rodent food was placed in the traps, as were blowfly casters; this is live food to provide sustenance in case insectivores (shrews) entered the traps.

Tube Trap

Everyone handled the traps and by the end of the session were au fait with the apparatus. The contents of the traps were inspected and very quickly attendees had familiarised themselves with Wood Mouse, Common Shrew and Bank Vole.Towards the end of the trapping session we emptied one trap to find a dead Pygmy Shrew and though there was no obvious reason why this animal had died this is an unfortunate aspect of trapping sometimes.  So, four species by the end of the trap emptying but the leaders had a trick up their sleeves as they had wooden sleepers and pallets down as refugia in places so a quick inspectionrevealed two Field Voles which gave an excellent five small mammal species for the day.

All agreed that the combined effort between CAN and WCBG worked very well.  It enables not only personal development but adhesion between active conservation groups, which can only be a good omen for conservation in Cheshire.  It was agreed that further combined events would be discussed.