By Harry Green
The BTO and the Mammal Society have recently been awarded a contract to design and run a multi-species winter mammal monitoring project and volunteers have been recruited to undertake the work. Many bird watchers who carry out the Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) have been approached to help with this important survey. Most BBS surveyors have been recording mammal sightings for several years. The reasons for mammal survey work are much the same as for birds. Some mammals are thought to have declined while others are increasing, others cause damage to crops or forestry, but concrete information on population trends is not available. Mammals are of course less easy to observe than birds, some are more difficult to identify, and many are nocturnal. These factors make mammals difficult ot monitor and different techniques are needed for different species. However, a multi-species approach is to be piloted this winter combining the Mammal Society's knowledge and the BTO's experience in organising wide-ranging surveys involving many volunteer field workers.
The one-winter trial survey is in two parts. The first (October to December) is a sightings survey by transect across randomly selected 1 km grid squares (like the Breeding Birds Survey and Winter Farmland Birds Survey). The second part (January to March) is a signs transect later in the winter following a longer transect in the same grid squares, using standardised techniques to look for field signs such as badger latrines, harvest mouse nests, mole hills, droppings and footprints. One part of the trial is to compare results of those who have trained on the Mammal Society's Look out for Mammals courses and BBS field workers who have also recorded mammals.
This pilot scheme is now up and running although at the time of writing we don't know how many people in Worcestershire are taking part. It is of course important that we receive the records from the survey for our own Worcestershire Mammals Atlas Project so could those who are involved please send us a copy of their results.
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