Barbastelle bats using the land between Devizes and Salisbury Plain have been studied since 2015, including the radiotracking of 3 females in 2015 and at least monthly roost monitoring. Further work was undertaken in May 2018 to learn more about this population, where they roost, breed and forage.
A big thank you to the trapping team who helped on the 19th May; a delightful catch of 5 Barbastelle bats (inc two retraps from 2015), 2 Bechstein’s and a series of Whiskered, Natterer’s, Brown Long-eared and Soprano Pipistrelle bats enabled us to place radiotags on two of the Barbastelle bats.
These two adult female bats lead us to a number of new tree roosts but perhaps most interesting was that one of them favoured the timber-clad dwelling that the 2015 tagged bats also favoured. Simultaneous emergence counts at the dwelling and a new tree roost on the opposite side of the valley produced counts of 6 and 7 adults respectively (I wonder how many we missed!?).
Both of the 2018 tagged bats foraged extensively around the Salisbury Plain military training area, foraging 10km to the south of their roosts not far from Tilshead. These bats are clearly “hard as nails” – they were foraging on the training area during military live-firing exercises (heavy artillery) with heavy use of flares to illuminate the landscape.
Huge thanks to the trapping team and the radiotracking team (Sarah Jupp, Lisa Wade and Kate Hand) – it was an epic week! Huge thanks also to all of the landowners who support this work and to the MOD’s Range Safety & Range Control.
During the coming spring and summer, Wiltshire Mammal Group will be undertaking some small mammal trapping surveys at a site near to Amesbury.
WMG Members will be welcome to participate in this work and to learn how to undertake such surveys.
More details including dates will be released in due course, but in the meantime, if people are interested in participating, please let us know and express your interest to wiltshiremammalgroup-at-Hotmail.co.uk and we’ll compile a list of interested members and keep you posted.
Thursday 10th May 2018 (including a talk on Wiltshire’s Bechstein’s & Barbastelle Project and recent findings, by Gareth Harris, county recorder),
Thursday 8th November 2018 (including a speaker, yet to be confirmed!)
Both meetings will start at 7pm at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s offices in Devizes. The meeting is open to anyone interested in supporting or getting involved in bat conservation in Wiltshire.
The meeting will start promptly at 7pm – please bear in mind that the meeting room is on an upstairs floor and so the front door of the building must be locked during the meeting. If you can avoid running late that would be great if – but in the event anyone is unavoidably running late, a phone number will be posted on the notice board by the door to call for you to be let in!
The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust offices, Elm Tree Court may be found off Long Street, Devizes SN10 1NJ. There will be parking available here, or nearby in town. If you’ve not been here before, allow yourself extra time to find it – the access into Elm Tree Court is easily missed.
With the strange weather we have been having spring has been delayed this year much to the surprise of many plants and animals. However, the last few days have been feeling decidedly warmer, so much so that I have forgone the coate in favor of just a t-shirt. While the snow may have caused havoc on our roads it also provided a great medium for spotting mammal tracks and prints that otherwise often go unnoticed. Did you have any prints you were unable to identify – why not share them to our Facebook group and see if someone else can?
This is a great time of year to go out and do some mammal tracks and signs surveys – before the vegetation becomes too long and prohibitive. Hares are our defending territory and finding mates and water vole sings should be fairly easy to see, and if you’re luck you may even be able to see them feeding or swimming along the rivers.
Some general tips when out walking and looking for mammals:
When entering a new area e.g. after turning a corner into a field do so slowly and take time to scan the area. Start in the distance moving closer, this way you are more likely to see species in the distance before they get scared away.
Look for obvious signs first: tracks, droppings, burrows, dreys, mole hills etc. You can then concentrate on the harder to find signs e.g. hair.
Try to think like a mammal – how would you use the landscape, where would you feed and sleep etc.
Move quietly and slowly keeping all-round vigilance. Some species e.g. hare will wait until you look away before moving / running away.
Now for the less exciting bit… membership!
WMG membership is up for renewal on 1st April. Our prefered method is for you to set up a standing order to pay on 1st April every year,thank you to everyone who has already done this, as it makes it so much easier for us to administer.
Our bank details are as follows:
Co-operative Bank, P.O. Box 250, Delf House, Southway, Skelmersdale WN8 6WT
Sort code: 08-92-99
Account number: 65258169
Membership is held at £10 and is vital for us to be able to conduct much of the work we do and provide insurance for you!
Dr Fiona Mathews and Domhnall Finch recently reviewed the data arising through the monitoring of the stone mines in Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, and specifically the hibernation counts.
Fiona and Jenny Bennett have produced the following summary for Wiltshire Bat Group members. These surveys have been supported by large number of bat workers from Wiltshire Bat Group and our friends from other bat groups – all are warmly thanked for supporting this work.
A huge Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all, whether members, friends or associates of WMG and WBG!
Thank you to all those who have contributed so much of their time and energy to mammal and bat conservation in Wiltshire throughout 2017 – there have been a number of exciting developments and findings which will be shared in the forthcoming newsletters (watch this space!!) ranging from new locations for rare bats and numerous positive harvest mouse surveys……..
Although many (but not all) of our subjects of interest will be hibernating now, there is still much to be done! The bat group’s hibernation counts at a series of sites across the county will commence in the New Year whilst project reporting, data collation & submission and so much more is ongoing! If you have records to submit from the 2017 field season, please submit them as soon as possible.
Please keep an eye out for mammals and their fieldsigns during your Christmas walks – the short daylight hours and the muddy ground conditions offer an abundance of mammal recording opportunities.
We look forward to seeing you in 2018 at any of a number of surveys, monitoring visits, events etc. We’re always looking for more folk to help organise events and surveys, so if you fancy getting involved please do get in touch. We might make these things look like they are smoothly and effortlessly organised, but like a proverbial swan, we’re paddling like mad below the surface!
A huge thank you to the many WMG members and friends who contributed their time and efforts to the four nest searches undertake this autumn in Coombe Bissett, Swallowcliffe, Broad Chalke and Bishopstrow, where 16, 20, 10 and 21 nests respectively were found, by 6, 6, 17 and 4 surveyors! (19 people have supported these surveys and training events).
In all cases, surveys were undertaken in areas for which we had no recent records – so, all in all, a great result. That we find harvest mice nests on all sites surveyed certainly suggests that they are widespread across Wiltshire and likely to be found in suitable habitat.
Thank you to the landowners who offered a warm welcome and great interest in this work and to Simon Smart and Jemma Batten of Black Sheep Consulting for arranging access with the landowners for us.
What next? Whilst we dont plan to organise further training events this autumn we encourage you to please keep looking for harvest mouse nests – a single nest is another confirmed location so keep your eyes peeled on your country walks! Let us know what you find…….
WMG is presenting it’s 5th annual owl pellet workshop to be held at Lackham College, Chippenham on Sunday 21st January 2018 9am till 1pm.
Thanks to a number of raptor workers in Wiltshire, particularly Major Nigel Lewis, Michael Groves and their colleagues, we’ve been able to analyse owl pellets from across Wiltshire, and in particular Salisbury Plain. In doing so, we’ve been able to generate a some great information regarding the distribution of some of our lesser recorded small mammals, making a great contribution to the mammal atlas project.
The workshop is ideal for beginners and as a refresher for those who have previous experience identifying small mammal remains from owl pellets.
Refreshment will be available on the day. If you’d like to join in or would like further information, please contact Paul Wexler on email@example.com.
A plea to raptor workers: If you are interested in contributing owl pellet samples for these analyses (barn owl pellets generate the most data but pellets from other species add some variety!), please get in touch too. We are particularly interested in samples collected regularly from the same locations as these can yield changes in the small mammal assemblage over time. Please remember to record the bird species, a 6 figure grid reference and a date of collection for each sample, which ideally should include fresh 10-20 pellets. For further information, please contact Paul Wexler on firstname.lastname@example.org.
WMG’s last two harvest mouse nest searches will be:
Saturday 11th November – near Broadchalke, Salisbury
Saturday 18th November – near Bishopstrow, Warminster
More helpers are always welcome – If you’d like to get involved please get in touch. We are asking participants to “book” on to each event to ensure we have contact details for everyone to ensure everyone receives directions etc.
Thank you once again to Simon and Jemma from Black Sheep Consulting, arranging access to landholdings in areas where we lack recent harvest mouse records.
On each occasion we’ll meet at 10am; we’ll provide directions to the meeting place to those who contact us and confirm their attendance. The surveys will take 3 hours or more, depending on enthusiasm levels. Bring appropriate outdoor gear, food and drink.
No experience necessary but be prepared to walk a short distance across rough ground and to enjoy the great British autumnal weather! All training will be provided! Just bring energy and enthusiasm!
If you’d like to get involved, please email wiltshiremammalgroup-at-hotmail.co.uk (don’t reply to this website or contact us via facebook – please just email us).
It’s well known that you cant spend too much time looking for harvest mice – searching long grass doesn’t make you go cross-eyed!
The second of this season’s harvest mouse nest searches was another success, with 20 nests of varying ages found on arable farmland close to Swallowcliffe, near Tisbury in South Wiltshire; a part of the county previously lacking records. And in beautiful sunshine too!
With thanks to Lisa, Michelle, Paul, Gemma and Richard for today’s efforts – great work team! And to Perin and Sonja for making us so welcome.
The next survey event will be the 11th November 2017 in Broadchalke, South Wiltshire. If you’d like to get involved please see further information here; email us on wiltshiremammalgroup-at-hotmail.co.uk to register your interest.