A New Mammals Atlas for Worcestershire?

By Harry Green

A few months ago Shaun Micklewright contacted me to say that he would be keen to play a leading role in undertaking work leading to a Mammal Atlas for Worcestershire. Great! Following on from that I hope we can start work in 2001 - more details in the April 2001 issue of Worcestershire Record. Meanwhile, here follows a little background information.

Recorders may remember that I showed overheads of Worcestershire mammal distribution at the Annual meeting of the Worcs BRC in March 1999 which had been prepared in 1982 from work done by BRC volunteers and staff (employed under the government’s job creation scheme of the time). The maps had been laboriously prepared by hand and had fortunately been hoarded by John Meiklejohn after the WBRC had lost funding and support. Illustrations for a publication had also been prepared. Four of the maps were printed in Worcestershire Record No 6 April 1999 with my response to an article by Digby Wood who had reached the unhappy conclusion after the March meeting that the tetrad mammal maps were of little use. In some respects he was correct, in others less so, as I stated in the article. The maps showed so few dots for some common species (especially mice) that the maps were almost meaningless in tetrad context though useful in the national hectad context. Conversely, moles had been recorded in virtually every tetrad in the county giving a truer picture of their distribution.

I have long been unhappy that so much effort was expended in 1982 without published results. Hopefully we can build on these efforts. I think that because of the long gap since the 1982 maps were prepared, that a simple up-date is useless - many things have changed. For example, deer (especially muntjac) have increased, and moles have probably declined. Hares are now scarce but badgers more abundant. Polecats and otters have returned.. Mink may be declining. Water voles have nearly vanished. Bats are in a bad way. Therefore it makes sense to start again but refer back to the earlier maps and information in the eventual publication. Johnny Birks has suggested we compile a ten-year atlas 1996 to 2005. This means we can make use of information on recent changes and have five years of intensive surveying ahead of us.

We should be very interested to hear your comments and ideas on this project including offers of help!

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