Posts Tagged ‘bristol’

Dr Nancy Harrison, a Principal Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, tells us about the many fascinating snapshots into the secret lives of the mammal kingdom they’ve caught on a hidden camera they’ve set up in their gardens.

“Most of my cameras are set up so I can watch nest boxes that are part of a long term study on problems faced by garden birds breeding in urban habitat. (You can find out more about Nancy’s studies into garden birds on the Cambridge University Botanic Garden web site.)

I am interested in predation on my study birds – and the cameras have alerted me to the danger from jays which sit on top of a box, and nab begging chicks when they put their head out of the hole.   But when I downloaded the first camera traps I used,  I was surprised to see a muntjac with fawns, and badgers walking around.  The footage was based on a series of nights I set the trap on a tree near the badger sett, to see if it was occupied!  I have never used bait, but the sett is clearly a good active site.  I have put cameras out in other locations where I have only seen evidence of the odd wood pigeon.  I think the discovery of the badger family at the CUBG sett is the best thing I’ve ever found using camera traps.  The worst was when I used one if my back garden and discovered a very large rat!

We are using camera traps of various designs on our course – using them to study the behaviour of animals.  We now run an MSc programme , including a module on how to use camera traps for scientific investigation.

For more information, please visit MSc;



I am glad more folk will be able to see some of the great wildlife stalking the garden at night.  There’s one clip of a fox cub.  Just a fleeting appearance, but interesting to see how many creatures come in to see what is happening at the sett.”

With great thanks to  Dr Nancy Harrison, the Anglia Ruskin University & Cambridge University Botanic Gardens for their kind contributions.

And here are Nancy’s wildlife clips;


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Our cities and countryside are leading a double life, as the sun goes down and you draw the curtains, different species are emerging, there are different predators and different prey, with different shapes dominating the skies.  Being glimpsed dimly at dusk makes it all too easy for this nocturnal wildlife to be overlooked or even misunderstood and feared.  And arguably bats are the most mysterious and misunderstood mammals of all. But for the curious it is this mystery that attracts you, in the bat world discoveries are still to be made and adventures are on your doorstep.

As recently as 2010 a new species, Alcathoe bat, was found to be living here in the UK, doubtlessly it had been here unnoticed for years, having been mistaken for its similar looking cousin.  It seems bats keep a lot of secrets. In the Bat Conservation Trust’s mission to secure fragile bat populations, volunteers and staff set out to discover more about bats and how use the landscape.  Each summer thousands of people go out at night to experience this nocturnal world first hand and count bats for the National Bat Monitoring Programme.  Some volunteers will use a bat detector to pick-up and listen to the different echolocation calls bats make to find their way and catch their insect prey,  the different frequencies and sounds can help identify the 18 different UK bat species.   As well as taking action to conserve bat populations and landscapes we also work to inspire people about bats and their environment.   I often find that once people are out face to face with the nature of the night it soon dispels myths and misunderstanding without losing any of the magic and mystery.

Bat flying at night in Baildon UK by sgwarnog2010 Flicr

That bats have remained mysterious (even to those that study them) is unusual given that bats have adapted to live right alongside us in rural and urban areas.  Some species share our homes and buildings, and there aren’t many rare and endangered mammals that will grace your home with their presence (a panda in the porch anyone?) but bats will.  In this and in so many ways bats are unique, the only true flying mammal, masters of the dark skies, how could you resist a visit to their night-time world? And just imagine the mysteries and secrets that are waiting to be revealed when you get there.  To share bat sightings, find local bat hotspots and events visit at www.bigbatmap.org

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The British Isles are a special place for special mammals. We have around 60 native species. Our mammals all play a vital role as keystone prey items for our our carnivore species and birds of prey. Also, where mammals thrive, we tend to have high quality habitats. The iconic otter and water vole are key indicators of water quality in our rivers and riparian habitats, hedgehogs and harvest mice of the biodiversity of our agricultural and rural landscapes, and dormice and bats of the quality of our woodland.

Red Squirrel (c) Rolling Verlinde

While we have a smaller number of species than Europe, we form the north western limit to many species’ ranges, seperated from the continent, and as such the British Isles are a vital stronghold for many which are scarce or threatened elsewhere.

For example, the Grey seal world population is estimated at only 250,000, with 101,500 living around the coast of the British Isles alone, and are of international conservation importance. Similarly we have nearly 30% of Europe’s Red deer, and the only thriving national badger populations with larger family groups.

Badger (c) Rollin Verlinde

We also have species that, while abundant on the continent, are of conservation concern here, and whose loss would impact heavily on the balance of our islands’ ecosystems. Two scarce predator species include the pine marten, limited to north England and Scotland, and the Scottish wildcat, a sub-species unique to us, numbers as few as 400 animals.

Some mammals are now recovering from declines such as the polecat, otter and dormouse, while others are still vulnerable, including the harvest mouse, brown hare, water vole and red squirrel. For other species we still know too little.

Mammals in Britain are critically under-recorded. To address this, The Mammal Society is compiling a National Mammal Atlas, the first for over 20 years, which will provide a detailed, up-to-date picture of mammal distribution and abundance across the British Isles. Records submitted to us will build the atlas and provide vital information about mammals over the last 15 years. Without this, we can’t effectively advocate and develop policy and guidance for mammal conservation.

Mammal trapping

Small mammals in particular suffer from lack of information. We introduced the urgently needed, ongoing, multi-species Mini Mammal Monitoring Programme to better understand the distribution and abundance of small mammals in the British Isles and provide long-term reliable data on population trends of this keystone group of mammals. The MMM Surveys run every Autumn and you can find more information online.

Visit www.mammal.org.uk to get involved in mammal monitoring and conservation.

With great thanks to Laura Drake at the Mammal Society for her contributions. You can also follow the Mammal Society on Twitter & Facebook

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If you’re lucky enough to see the endangered Red Squirrel in the UK, it will seldom be long enough to get a good gander! Lucky for us these guys, KindroganFSC on Youtube are the masters of capturing some of the most subtle and breathtaking observational wildlife footage we’ve seen in the UK. Watch this chipper chappy as he helps himself to nuts from the tree mounted feeder.

For more amazing wildlife footage visit, www.youtube.com/user/KindroganFSC

This video is courtesy of KindroganFSC on Youtube….All footage filmed at Kindrogan, Perthshire in Scotland. Many thanks chaps!

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With great thanks to The Wildlife Garden Project for this video! For more videos and information on how you can help wildlife in your garden, visit www.wildlifegardenproject.com

Film made by Laura Turner

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Why did the hedgehog cross the road? Well, sorry to ruin the fun but for many reasons, and we want to make sure they’re safe doing so. We talk to Richard Wembridge from People’s Trust for Endangered Species about what we can do to help hedgehogs and more about PTES’s project, Hedgehog Street!

The hedgehog is one of our most charismatic and popular native mammals, but in 2007 it was assigned the status of a ‘priority species’ for conservation in the UK and there is strong evidence that its numbers are declining alarmingly.

The first real indication of a decline came from our Mammals on Roads survey, an annual count of hedgehogs and other species along road journeys. This, together with records from other surveys, such as our Living with Mammals and the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch and Breeding Bird Survey, suggest hedgehog numbers may have fallen by a quarter in only the last ten years.

In response, PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) set up Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign to get people involved in hedgehog conservation. Since last spring, over 20,500 volunteers have signed up to become ‘Hedgehog Champions’ and received or downloaded an information pack to inspire and recruit people in their neighbourhood.

In urban and suburban areas, changes in the way gardens are managed can affect how well hedgehog populations fare. Where garden boundaries are impermeable to wandering hedgehogs, and roads become busier, populations can become isolated and unsustainable. Gardeners who are too tidy or who tarmac their land deplete foraging, nesting and hibernation opportunities.

Stephen Heliczer (c) 2012

More widely, the causes of the hedgehog’s problems are complex and not fully understood. More research is needed, particularly in rural settings. PTES and BHPS are funding work at WildCRU, University of Oxford, in which radio-tracking will help show how hedgehogs use arable farmland in Oxfordshire. The findings will be invaluable in guiding future conservation.

So, what has Hedgehog Street achieved? Over 2,500 Hedgehog Champions told us what they’ve been up to. Over 50 per cent have involved at least one neighbour in the project, making a total of 4,699 neighbours in 3,677 households attached to about 293 hectares of land – 33 times the infield area of the London 2012 Olympic stadium. So far our Champions have created 2660 new hibernation sites, 5064 natural feeding areas, removed 3,404 hazards and linked 4,823 gardens.

These figures represent tangible benefits for hedgehogs, and for other species, and might just ensure that hedgehogs remain a wild denizen of our gardens and urban spaces.

Nigel Kingwill (c) 2012

To take part in Mammals on Roads survey or for information about Hedgehog Street champion, visit the PTES website (www.ptes.org) or email enquires@ptes.org.

About PTES

In the UK, 90 per cent of water voles and 75 per cent of hazel dormice have been lost in recent years. Overseas, turtles are regularly caught and killed in fishing gear, lions are illegally shot and the seahorse population in south East Asia has halved. People’s Trust for Endangered Species has been working tirelessly to save endangered species within their habitats for 35 years. We support practical conservation work and research worldwide with a special focus on British wildlife. This is made possible by donations from our supporters and grants from charitable organisations, as we receive no core funding from the government. For more information about our charity, please visit our website www.ptes.org.

 With many thanks to David Wembridge & PTES for their great contribution!

Click here to follow PTES on Facebook & Twitter.

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For each of our 12 themed finale days, we are setting you a challenge to work out what species our photograph is of. In the morning, we’ll be posting a close up photograph of part of the species. You’ll have all day to try and work out what it is before we post the whole picture later that afternoon. Good luck!

Tweet us your answer @MeettheSpecies, leave a comment below or facebook us (links on the right!)

So here’s your challenge for the day, and don’t forget that this species can only be a MAMMAL species….

(Unfortunately we are unable to award Richard Comont with any points/ kudos for guessing the species correctly as he is far too good at this game!)

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