Tag: Cheshire WCBG

Small Mammal Trapping at Rocksavage, Jan 2013

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.

 

Badger Surveying Event

Badger Print

One of the new events for this year was the Badger workshop looking at everything from badger habitat and field signs to mitigation and persecution. On Saturday 4th August, 18 bright eyed CAN members joined Wirral & Cheshire Badger Group representatives Brian Rhodes & Jane Cullen to find out more and hear about their badger experiences over the last 30 years of the groups existence.

Members as usual came up with a raft of intelligent questions for Brian, Jane & CAN council member Helen Lacy, and the afternoon flew by as the group dissected pictures of badgers, setts and of course badger poo! The not so nice subject of badger persecution was discussed and the importance, as always, of recording. The tricky issue of sett closures & mitigation was demonstrated with some interesting case studies and examples of what not to do. Hopefully members went away armed with the knowledge of what field signs to look for and what issues there are surrounding badgers today but more importantly a greater understanding and respect for this stunning mammal.

Badger Sett on Public Footpath

As part of this session members were driven off (and returned in one piece!) to a woodland sett a few miles away whereby evening badger watches took place. These watches were spread over the weekend and each watch was different to the last. The woodland is in a lovely quiet spot and our members had it all to themselves which was a real treat. Whilst waiting patiently for the badgers, woodmice were seen scampering about and the bats were feeding so close you could feel them turn in front of your nose. One night the wood was full of noise with tawny owls calling and screeching all night long and fox cubs were heard playing too. A badger started to venture out of its sett only to be startled by the blood curdling scream of a vixen & dart back into its sett- damn! At least a badger was seen though! On the last night it was ‘Badgers in the mist’, the day had seen a tremendous thunderstorm over the region but by the evening conditions were vastly improved and looking good for the watch. As the eagle eyed CAN members ventured into the wood and sat down a mist slowly rolled in and enveloped the whole wood- even the previously noisy tawny owls had nothing to say and the wood fell quiet apart from the sounds of water dripping from the trees. By the time the wood was completely dark a snout appeared from out of the sett and minutes later the watchers were treated to a great view of a badger as it came fully out to munch on a few of the scattered peanuts. It didn’t stay out long but none the less it was great to see and a surprise addition to the evening was the lovely display made by the woods Glow worms. All in all a great weekend, thanks to those who took part and of course to Wirral & Cheshire Badger Group.

To visit our friends in the Wirral and Cheshire Badger Group please click on the link below…

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