Cue fanfare! Its newsletter time!

Happy New Year to all WMG and WBG members, friends, helpers et al!

Mammal study continues unabated in 2018 with WBG’s bat hibernation checks commencing early in the New Year and currently ongoing…….in the meantime, for those not wishing to brave today’s grim, wet weather, here’s something interesting to read to get through the day…….

Wiltshire Bat Group’s Newsletter, Spring 2018

Wiltshire Mammal Group’s Newsletter Spring 2018

These newsletters demonstrate that a core group in the county are busy delivering a multitude of projects, studies, guided walks and public engagement event…..you’re all brilliant, thank you everyone. There are a huge number of opportunities for people to get involved and to support these works. How can YOU get involved?

 

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Sun rise over Bush Barrow, Stonehenge World Heritage Site – a place of brown hare, polecat, harvest mouse, serotine bats and Barbastelle bats (C) G Harris

 

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Merry Christmas!!

 

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!

Merry Christmas!

 

Brown Hare (C) Nick Tomalin
Something to remind you of summer! Brown hare (C) Nick Tomalin

 

 

 

Harvest mouse nest searches – Success!

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.

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Superb harvest mouse habitat – an abundance of nests in a buffer strip adjacent to a small watercourse (C) G Harris

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…….

 

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mid-November and still finding fresh green nests (C) G Harris

 

WMG’s 5th Annual Owl Pellet Analysis Workshop

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 greimg_7092-copyat 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 paul.wexler@wiltshire.ac.uk.

 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 paul.wexler@wiltshire.ac.uk.

Harvest Mouse surveys……updated plans

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.

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harvest mouse nest in field margin, Easterton, Wiltshire (c) G Harris.

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).

More harvest mouse surveys!

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.

 

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Harvest mouse nest, nr Swallowcliffe, S. Wiltshire (C) G. Harris

 

 

Wiltshire Bat Group meeting, 9th November 2017

The next Wiltshire Bat Group meeting will be on Thursday 9th November, 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. There will be a short talk by Dr Dani Linton followed by some project updates before adjourning to a nearby pub in Devizes.

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.

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Noctule bat at the Big Bat Bonanza, Savernake Forest, August 2017 (c) G Harris

Harvest Mouse Surveys……..

Today, WMG completed the first of four survey events, searching for the nests of harvest mice in areas currently lacking records.

The recently-published Mammals in Wiltshire, second edition, highlighted that in recent years the harvest mouse has been very poorly recorded in Wiltshire – and yet, every targeted nest survey that we’ve undertaken has found them!

Todays survey, near Coombe Bissett, Salisbury, found 16 nests of harvest mice, including many which were still green and freshly-woven. We also recorded brown hare, roe deer, field vole nests, badger, fox, rabbit and roe deer, as well as grey partridge, linnet, skylark and stonechat.

Today’s survey produced new records for harvest mice in a part of the county previously lacking in records. A great outcome.

Thank you to Richard and Katie Jowett, Bake Farm Fruit Farm, Coombe Bissett, for the warm welcome, and to Simon Smart of Black Sheep Consulting for facilitating the visit. And, of course, the star surveyors – Simon, Lisa, Jenny, Annette and Paul.

The next survey will be on the 28th October, for more information see here. The more the merrier!

 

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harvest mouse nest (C) G Harris
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harvest mouse nest (C) G Harris

 

Volunteer at WSBRC

Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC) depends on volunteers for a range of activities it undertakes, not least in supplying species records. Office volunteers make a crucial contribution by supporting the day to day data management tasks WSBRC performs.

 

Without volunteers helping with data capture and checking, your records would much longer to get onto the county database and from it be available for data searches, partner updates, atlases and the many other uses biological data is put to.

We also need support for our Map the Gap project, so if you fancy learning more about habitat mapping and how to use MapInfo GIS then this might be the volunteer opportunity for you!

To find out more visit the WSBRC volunteering page.

 

Harvest mouse surveys – helpers needed! UPDATE #3!

During coming weeks Wiltshire Mammal Group, and a few of its friends, will be delivering a series of surveys for harvest mice across Wiltshire.

The recently-published Mammals in Wiltshire, second edition, highlighted that in recent years the harvest mouse has been very poorly recorded in Wiltshire – and yet, every targeted nest survey that we’ve undertaken has found them!

We are once again teaming up with Simon and Jemma from Black Sheep Consulting, identifying a series of landholdings in areas where we lack recent harvest mouse records.

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harvest mouse nest in field margin, Easterton, Wiltshire (c) G Harris.

 

We need your help please! With plenty of helpers we can cover more ground on each landholding and record more nests and, indeed, other wildlife!

The first date will be Saturday 14th October, a farm near Coombe Bissett, Salisbury.

Saturday 28th October – a farm near Swallowcliffe, Tisbury.

Saturday 11th November – near Broadchalke, Salisbury

Saturday 18th November – location to be confirmed.

On each occasion we’ll meet at 10am; we’ll provide directions to the farm and meeting place. to those who contact us and confirm their attendance. The surveys will take 3 hours or more, depending on enthusiasm levels, but the scale of the landholdings and the welcome we typically receive are very encouraging! Its worth bringing lunch and refreshments just in case. 

If you’d like to get involved please get in touch. We’ll release more detail very shortly. We’ll be asking participants to “book” on to each event to ensure we have contact details for everyone to ensure everyone receives directions etc.

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).

Conserving all Wiltshire & Swindon's mammals