Harry Green & Shaun Micklewright (Mammal Recorder for Worcestershire) 

As readers will be well aware we have been asking for records for this project for several years and a great many have been sent in.  The purpose of the new Mammal Atlas is to present a clear statement on the status of mammals at the present time – roughly the decade around 2000.  How we wish we had a similar survey from 50 years ago!  Lots of changes are taking place – deer increasing, hedgehogs probably decreasing, bats decreasing, badgers increasing, otters returning, mink probably declining’ polecats increasing.  But, for instance, we know very little about current status of stoats and weasels.  And the house mouse is in serious decline.  Mice in houses these days are usually wood mice. 

We have recently mapped out the mammal records received at WBRC since 1999 and these are shown in the accompanying maps.  These maps are of diversity – the number of species recorded for monads and tetrads – and not of actual numbers of records.  There main purpose is to show which parts of VC37 have squares without recent records or where very few species have been recorded.  This will give recorders a guide of where to look next.  We are still very short of records – please help. 

It is very easy to collect records of many mammals.  Our roads are littered with casualties: rabbits, badgers, foxes, occasional hedgehogs, polecats, even mink and otters.  All you have to do is note the species, date and place and work out a grid reference – simple stuff!  A lot of records can also be gathered from “What the cat brings in”.  There are good field guides to help identify voles, mice and shrews.  How to find and identify mammals published by the Mammal Society is very useful giving drawings of relative sizes and features of small rodents, of footprints, and many other signs.  You can also identify small mammal remains in owl pellets.  A new edition of the Mammal Society The analysis of owl pellets is now available if you want to have a go yourself, otherwise post them (or bring them) to John Meiklejohn at the WBRC Office.  In winter Mole Hills are very obvious and can easily be recorded.  Many fields now lack moles and most can be seen in rough pastures, orchards, by roads, in villages, or in woods.  And what about rats?  There are supposed to be 60 million in UK and you are never more than 10 metres from one, they say! 

Identifying bats is more difficult, but there is now re-activated bat group in Worcestershire which is doing a great deal of recording.  New bat detectors are a powerful tool for identification.  If you find a dead bat please bring or send it to us.  A man living in Elmley Castle did just that and it turned out to be a Lesser Horseshoe Bat (a scarce species) and further search revealed a cellar in which they were probably breeding: a completely new find for SE Worcestershire.  If you want help with bats contact the Bat Group through Ed Leszczynski at the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s office.  In a recent article in Worcester Wildlife News he reports that 13 of the 16 UK bat species have now been found in the county. 

We get asked: what is the point of recording all these common mammals?  The point is that change occurs: what is common now may be rare in 50 years time, or even commoner.  We are creating an annotated baseline to tell us what we have now for use in the future.  In our rapidly changing countryside such documentation at regular intervals is crucial for detecting changes in our wildlife (for example see Bert Reid’s article on plants in this issue).  The work of the British Trust for Ornithology in following change in bird distributions and numbers  is an example of the value of regular survey leading to conservation alerts. 


Would you like to be a square person?

Perhaps you could take on a 10 km square with the aim of visiting every tetrad (25) or better every monad (100) to look for mammals and their signs and traces?  You can do a lot by simply driving round the countryside, walking a few footpaths, and noting the mammals that you see (dead or alive) and looking for traces (droppings, pellets, latrines, footprints).  If you would like to do this please let us know, or just go out and do it!  Then send us the records.  Whatever you do SEND US RECORDS! 

SARGENT G & MORRIS P  1999 How to find and identify mammals.  The Mammal Society.
YALDEN DW 2003. The Analysis of Owl pellets.  (New edition) The Mammal Society


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