Sunday, March 31, 2013

Camera trapping - SN12 - 11th-18th March 2013

The third site seemed to have wonderful potential for all sorts of wildlife as Peter and Carole were developing it into a private nature reserve.  From their first year of living here, they had a quite extensive list of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, etc.  They were clearing trees in some areas and making log-piles with the wood.  Elsewhere they were planting trees, developing a pond, keeping chickens etc.  The site included steep rocky slopes going down to the Eastern Cleddau.

The Mostela was placed behind one of the larger log-piles, where there were plenty of gaps between logs to attract small mammals and perhaps the odd weasel or two.  But, surprisingly, absolutely nothing was recorded there.  Perhaps the log-pile was just too new.

A second camera overlooked a path where some unknown mammal had recently left a scat.  Whatever the mammal was, it didn't return.  But a woodmouse enjoyed the food scattered in front of the camera for a few nights.

The third camera watched a crevice under boulders where clearly something small had been living - the ground just outside was worn clear of vegetation.  This time there were at least one woodmouse and two bank voles taking the bait.

The video shows the bank voles - it's difficult to be sure which kind of voles they are from this video, but field voles have very short tails, and the glimpse of a tail here suggests bank vole - and all the other vole videos show clearly they are bank voles.

Thanks to Peter and Carole at Glyn-bach

Friday, March 29, 2013

Camera trapping - SN23 - 19th Feb - 11th March 2013

Surfing the internet for any information on using camera traps to record stoats, weasels and polecats, I discovered that researchers in the Netherlands had had some success with a box they called a "Mostela".  Jenny McPhearson of the Vincent Wildlife Trust had some of these made up and was willing to lend one for the project.  So for the second site, the Mostela was used instead of the seed tray.

The traps were out for a longer period simply because I went on holiday for a couple of weeks.  But the longer period didn't necessarily mean more mammals!

The Mostela was discovered by a house mouse who made repeated visits over at least three nights until the card in the camera ran out of space to record his antics.  One of the other cameras recorded several birds - a jay, a great tit, and what was probably an owl landing on a nearby fence post as a strange shape appeared in the top corner of the frame on a couple of nights. 

The third camera recorded nothing again.  After some discussion with the camera supplier, the problem was found to be a setting way down the menu that effectively meant the camera was switched off.
Again, on the farm in general, there were moles, badgers, foxes and frogs.
Thanks to Lyndsey & Steve at Ffynon Halog

Video of house-mouse in the mostela.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Camera trapping - SN23 - Feb 11-17th 2013

The new camera traps are Ltl Acorn 6210s, and seemed to be fairly easy to set up via SD cards with the computer. 
We put three cameras out at Garreglwyd.  One was in woodland,  one in the corner of a field, and the last one one under a tray to attract small mammals (this was actually my Bushnell which I know works in this situation - while I tested the other new one at home).  The test buttons seemed to show everything working.

The results were disappointing.  The camera under the tray had recorded a woodmouse visiting at night, but the pictures were very over-exposed.  The other two cameras recorded nothing. 

The over-exposed pictures were easily remedied by switching the camera to video instead of photo - I'm not sure why it was switched to stills in the first place. 

The cameras that recorded nothing were checked, and it is likely that the sliding on-off switch wasn't in quite the right position, so this is something that needs to be double-checked whenever the cameras are deployed - not easy if the cameras are set close to the ground.

However, there were other mammals and amphibians to record on the site - fox, badger, rabbit, mole, and frog (lots of spawn)

Thanks for your help, Nick.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Camera-trapping for mammals

Camera traps have been around for a while now, and many people will have seen them used on TV to find rare animals in all parts of the world - most notably the tigers in the mountains of Bhutan.

But you don't need to go to exotic places to use camera traps - do you know what is visiting your garden?  I discovered three previously unknown cats visiting mine after dark!

Now, with financial assistance from the Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership, we have three camera traps to use across the county to see what mammals are out there.  The target species are stoats, weasels, polecats and hedgehogs - animals that are under-recorded in general - as well as some of the smaller critters like mice, voles and shrews.

The overall idea is that anyone with a rural garden, smallholding or farm can host the traps for a week, then they are moved on to another site. 

To get an even coverage across the county, I'm hoping for people to volunteer sites in each 10km square.  Once every square has one week of coverage, we'll be looking for second, third and fourth sites in those squares.

What is a 10km square?  For the uninitiated, the 10km x 10km squares are shown on the map below:

If you are interested in taking part, contact me here