Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Small mammals on Chorlton Ees

Whenever you go for a walk on Chorlton Ees small mammals such as wood mice and field voles are probably not far away but it is unlikely that you ever see one, unless it darts across the path in front of you.

Small mammals form an essential part of any food web or chain. They are in the case of the shrews both predator and prey. Whereas, field voles however are exclusively herbivorous, but you might be able to tell where a vole is by the kestrel fluttering above it on the meadows. While voles are normally found nesting and feeding in the middle of the meadows, wood mice as the name suggests are much happier on the woodland floor and edge where they forage for seeds, nuts and berries. Evidence of their presence can be seen by looking for cherry stones and similar seeds that have been gnawed by the mice.

To gauge the numbers of small mammals on a given area the best way is to trap them in a device very similar to a humane mouse trap that you might have had to use yourself. The traps are left with some bedding and food so if an animal should venture in it is comfortable for the night. Recently Richard Gardner and Julian Robinson from the friends group have been doing exactly this and trying to work out Chorlton Ees small mammal population.

If you would like to see some of Richard and Julian's work, find out more about the small mammals on Chorlton Ees and get the chance to see them a close quarter then come along to a public event on Sunday 3rd, 9am to 11am, meeting at Chorlton Ees Car Park.

For more hints and tips on how to tell the British small mammals apart take a look at this document http://www.erccis.co.uk/mammals/downloads/smallmammals.pdf

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