Posts Tagged ‘mammals’

There is no better way to spend a summer afternoon than by taking a stroll through a beautiful woodland, especially when you are accompanied by a dedicated naturalist who can point out the incredible diversity of species along the way!


Small mammal footprints, bird’s eggs, squirrels and caterpillars were all very spotted quickly by this afternoon’s dedicated bunch of young wildlife detectives.



While examining a fallen tree, naturalist Gill showed the students a distinctive ball-shaped fungus known as King Alfred’s cakes, named because it resembles burnt cakes (burnt, as legend has it, by King Alfred himself). Gill explained that this species is also known as ‘cramp balls’ as it was once believed that this fungus protected against cramp and men used to carry them around in their pockets for this reason!



Gill then went on to explain the important role that dead wood plays in a forest ecosystem, providing food for many of the invertebrate inhabitants. These invertebrates in turn make a tasty snack for a badger!


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With the first session underway we caught up with naturalist Gill Brown and some enthusiastic young wildlife explorers as they searched for signs of mammals in the reserve.

It wasn’t long before the first clues were uncovered and Gill showed the group some tiny footprints and droppings left in homemade small mammal tunnels which had been put out overnight.


The tunnels had been baited with peanut butter and Gill explained that this meant that the footprints probably didn’t belong to shrews, which have an insectivorous diet and were unlikely to have been attracted by the nutty snack!


Although tiny footprints are tricky to identify, Gill took the clearest examples with her for closer inspection later. We’ll keep you updated!

Whilst heading out to the next stop, a known badger sett in the reserve, a keen-eyed student spotted two mole hills in the long grass, a great find and another species to add to the tally.


The students were thrilled when Gill showed them the badger sett, identified by its size and the nesting material at the entrance. They were then ‘sett’ the task of scouring the nearby area for ‘snuffle-pits’, scrapes in the ground made by foraging badgers!


Finally, Gill showed the group hazelnuts growing on the bank, and explained that finding evidence of nibbled hazelnuts on the ground is a clear sign to confirm the presence of small mammals nearby.


All in all a great start to the day, the tally is well underway!

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