Friday, 20 September 2013

18th September: Surveying Mini Mammals on Holy Island

This year's surveys of Holy Island's smallest mammalian residents has successfully completed, with the help of a local mammal expert, Veronica Carnell, of Northumbria Mammal Group.

The traps were distributed across two transects through the dunes of Holy Island, making sure to place them on higher ground in case of heavy rain. 'Prebaiting' was carried out on day one - this is the installation of the traps in the field with bait and bedding, but with the traps locked open so no animals would be captured. This lets animals investigate the traps and get used to them.

A Longworth trap set on prebait at dusk. A nice cosy bed and meal for some little mice or shrews!

After being set on prebait for 24 hours, the traps were then checked, re-baited and set to lock closed when an animal enters. It is very important at this point to add extra food and take extra care when replacing the trap - once an animal goes in now, there is no escape until the trap is checked! The traps were checked just a few hours later. The trap is carefully opened into a large plastic bag, and once identified the animal is set free in exactly the same place.

One of the woodmice caught by the traps

The traps caught some woodmice but no shrews - common and water shrews do live on the Island. Voles are also present on Holy Island, but these animals can be very trap-shy!

Collecting and emptying the traps at the end of the survey period

A huge thanks to Veronica for helping greatly with the survey and passing on her extensive knowledge. More information about Northumbria Mammal Group, and other Wildlife Groups in Northumberland, can be found here.

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