This week our trio of intrepid mammal mappers, Mammal Society council members, Derek Crawley, Pam Worrall and Merryl Gelling (with trusty sidekicks Seahorse and Turtle!) completed their 2.6 fundraising challenges to record as many mammal signs and sightings as they could within the space of 26 weeks. Their challenges took place in Staffordshire, Kent and Oxfordshire respectively. They began during the week that the London Marathon was due to take place (26 April) and finished 26 weeks later during National Mammal Week.
Below is Pam Worrall’s account. Blogs from Derek and Merryl will follow shortly.
NB. Altogether, the Mammal Society team raised over £1,000 as part of the 2.6 Challenge. All money raised will be used to support our mammal conservation work, including new and continued research into mammal populations and distribution in Britain and projects such as Hedgehogs On Roads, the National Harvest Mouse Project and PlasticsInMammals.
Thank you everyone for taking part!
Blog #1 – Pam Worrall in Kent
Pam set herself the challenge of recording 26 species in 26 weeks.
“By the middle of July I had seen 15 mammal species, all in locations within 10 miles of Tonbridge where I live, as I intended to record during the lockdown period when out for exercise or visits to my allotment. Initially I saw signs of the usual species most associated with urban areas or allotments, including rabbits, red foxes, moles, badgers and grey squirrels.
As the weather in spring warmed up rapidly there were many common and soprano pipistrelle bats foraging around the River Medway and grounds of Tonbridge Castle, identified using a heterodyne bat detector.
In my garden I saw a house mouse, a couple of brown rats on the bird feeders and occasional visits from grey squirrels, also feeding on the bird seeds and peanuts. I was also setting up a moth light trap each evening and checking it at dawn the following day. On one early start at daybreak, I managed to disturb a rat which had fallen asleep inside the wire-sided peanut feeder, presumably engorged with nuts. Boy did it jump and scarper when I made a noise! My only regret was not trying to creep up on it and take a photo, but I actually thought it was dead and was busy contemplating how I was going to get it out of the feeder!
The house mouse was particularly engaging, as it tried to reach the seeds in a plastic feeder from the top (I was able to watch it as the moth trap was nearby and illuminated the bird feeders). It was a laugh-out-loud moment when it finally gave up after slipping off the feeder and doing a somersault down to the ground. Who needs TV wildlife programmes when you can watch their antics from the kitchen window?
I was also lucky to encounter a herd of about 12 fallow deer on a quiet country road around eleven o’clock one night. As I drove round a bend I was confronted by them standing in the middle of the road. They ambled away into the nearby woodland but I was able to get a good close-up view of them. Luckily it was still during the deep lockdown period and there was no traffic at all on the road to worry about. The roe deer were relatively easy to spot as they are also quite bold and come out to feed around the margins of the reservoir at Bough Beech well before dusk.
The only hedgehog I have seen so far this year was a dead one on a main road in late May, when there were a few more cars on the roads.
I waited until late July before making a trip over to the east coast of Kent and went on a boat trip to see the 100+ common seals hauled out at the mouth of the River Stour, with one or two grey seals there too. A month later I did another trip, this time out of Kent and over to Hertfordshire to assist in the edible dormouse monitoring project. I also saw a dead mole in the woodlands where we were recording the dormice. We have a couple of sites in Kent where it is possible to observe beaver signs so I added those to my list in late August.
Another trip to Dungeness on the south coast was rewarded with a fleeting glimpse of harbour porpoise. Small mammals were quite elusive, but I found field voles underneath reptile refugia, harvest mouse nests around arable field margins next to a wet ditch, water vole feeding remains in the centre of Tonbridge, a yellow-necked mouse in a dormouse box and a bank vole underneath another reptile refuge. My local Country park produced the sounds of a Nathusius’ pipistrelle foraging above the lake.
The last few mammal species were more difficult to find. This year because of Covid restrictions I haven’t been able to do the regular hazel dormouse monitoring for the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme. I also haven’t travelled far from Kent. I finally finished on the 25th October, collecting 26 mammal species and beating my donations target to raise £300 for the Mammal Society.”
If you are planning to fundraise for the Mammal Society THANK YOU! A great place to start is our JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving pages. That way we can keep track of what you’re doing and encourage you along the way. Do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you’re doing and be sure to tag us on social media.