Sunday, 25 September 2016

A new species for the mill?

Today on my usual survey I came across a body. A body of a shrew. It is not uncommon to find dead shrews, they live fast and short lives. They have to eat almost constantly to maintain their high metabolism. Shrews also taste horrible. They actually have poisonous teeth and many predators find the taste of the flesh nasty and so many that get caught are just left.

This particular shrew caught my eye though, it was considerably larger than any other shrew I had seen and was differently coloured. Rather than the gentle gradation of brown to white the body seemed to be dark, almost black above and white below.

The image below shows the corpse. What out, the body is a little mangled.

The 50p coin shows that the shrew was approximately 70-80mm long.

I did a little research using an excellent site - Wildlife Kates blog to confirm that this could be a Water Shrew Neomys fodiens.

This is the first record I have made of this species at the Saxon Mill. I have seen Common Shrews with some regularity and even had one run into my shoe but this was the first evidence of this water specialist.

This takes the mammal count for the Saxon Mill up to 14.

Grey Squirrel
Bank Vole
Field Vole
Wood Mouse
Brown Rat
Common Shrew
Water Shrew

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Badger Behaviour

One of the best things of about collecting camera trap data is gathering some of the pieces of behaviour and inter-species interactions. This week saw an interestingly high activity of Badgers. This peaked  on Tuesday with up to three individuals moving up and down the hedge line through the night.

Just after 9 pm, the camera detected a Fox. He seems in good condition and still with black paws and ear tips. I like to (very unscientifically) think it is the cub born near the site two years ago. Something is making the Fox wary but he relaxed.

Two minutes later a large badger comes ambling past and encounters the fox, just out of shot.

Having chased the Fox off the Badger returns to its foraging.

Foxes and Badgers are not natural enemies, their diets do overlap and I have seen them coexist as well although in all cases it is the badger that instigates any aggressive behaviour.