Archive for the 'Mammals' Category

27th June 2012, Wednesday

Benefits of a wet summer

The natural pits on Dungeness are a range of ancient natural water bodies on the RSPB Reserve, of varying depth.  Pit 6 frequently dries out in the summer, but this year a pair of waders are required to get into the centre and stay dry.  This is where I found signs of water vole – a neat pile of rush stems nibbled at the characterisitic 45° angle and a blunt ended water vole dropping close by on the old tree stump.  In the top photo the dropping is just to the left of the pile of rush stems, near the end of the stump.  This species tends to retreat to deeper water bodies in dry years, but can spread out into temporary water when conditions permit.

water-vole-feeding-signs-and-droppings.jpg

A second feeding site was

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1st June 2012, Friday

Not quite gone from the Marsh

Yesterday and today I’ve been recce’ing routes around East Guldeford Level, walking tracks along old embankments, across sheep fields and around arable land. As evidence of their great decline, in over 10 miles I found just 2 pairs and 6 other male Yellow Wagtails, 4 Corn Buntings (two pairs?) and a single pair of Tree Sparrows. Even Skylarks were few and far between, and only Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings seem to be holding their numbers. Other wildlife of note included close encounters with a Fox and a Hare, 2 Painted Ladies, 2 Red Admirals and a pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets.

9th April 2012, Monday

Pop goes the weasel

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There have been several sightings of weasel recently from widespread locations on the nature reserve. Most have been of singles and fleeting, but on 25th March John Bushell had a longer encounter with 2 animals at Castle Water and managed to get this photo of 2 fighting (or were they courting?).
The saying in the title can be explored by clicking here.

25th February 2012, Saturday

Fieldmice can be carnivores


I had heard about mice eating petrel chicks alive (click here), but didn’t realise that our Fieldmouse could also be a meat eater. In December I got this video of two Fieldmice looking like they might be tucking into a Rabbit carcass (especially the one at the back), but later in the night a Badger stole the carcass, so there was no evidence. But recently I had left a Rabbit carcass on top of a metal dustbin inside my workshop and yesterday there were signs of a Fieldmouse eating it – see photo (not for the squeamish) Read the rest of this entry »

17th November 2011, Thursday

Garden Sightings

In my Rye Harbour garden last evening there was a Pipistrelle Bat flying around the tree tops, then as I watched it a Sparrowhawk appeared and chased it in a loop, but the bat escaped. Then this morning a Black Redstart was in front of the kitchen window. Still flowering in the garden is some Wall Germander (a captive population from Camber Castle!).

30th October 2011, Sunday

Grey Seal

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On Saturday afternoon a large Grey Seal was hauled out for about an hour on the shore at Rye Harbour, despite a small crowd of onlookers and dogs. It looked unwell and was a potential risk to the onlookers, so I called Mallydams RSPCA. Then, almost immediately the seal turned and loped off into the receding tide… and I was able to cancel the RSPCA call out! Photo by Mike Slavin.

5th October 2011, Wednesday

des. res.

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On grassy shingle banks at this time of year there are frequent piles of small stones mounded outside of small holes. The photo shows a new one in my garden with a pile, about 40cm across, of small stones (there is a 50p coin in the photo and the entrance is top centre). I have often wondered what made these and a Trail Camera has provided the answer. It is a pair of Long-tailed Field Mice but I find it hard to imagine them moving these 1,000+ stones one by one from under the ground to outside their front door. The video shows them in front of the entrance and one is taking in nest material, so it looks like the main construction phase is over and they are now fitting it out with nest material. Read the rest of this entry »

12th August 2011, Friday

Harbour Porpoise

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This small Harbour Porpoise was found on the shore at Winchelsea Beach last evening. It was freshly dead and measured about 1 metre, a lot less than the adult size of 1.8m. Read the rest of this entry »

28th April 2011, Thursday

Garden Water Vole

Water Vole
I realised a Water Vole was coming to the pond in my wildlife garden at Dungeness, but capturing it on camera proved impossible, so we bought a Bushnell camera trap, and straight away got these images. The Vole has several holes around the pond, I think the pond attracted him because of the vegetation around it and I have a open compost heap with lots of vegetable peelings right next to the pond, although it can attract undesirables such as a Brown Rat a few years ago. I don’t know if many people have any records of Water Voles in their garden.
From Dave Bunney by e-mail.

2nd April 2011, Saturday

Wetland mammal sighting.

Near Rye Harbour Village today I saw a cat playing with a “mouse”, which appeared to be black. On closer inspection it was a Water Shrew with black upperparts and white below. I have only seen half a dozen Water Shrews alive, but sadly this one had been severely mauled and was not going to live much longer… I wonder how much wildlife that one cat kills in a year? Does it represent the same as a Barn Owl? And how many cats are there in the village? Read this link for more info.