LIVE MAMMAL TRAPPING IN GILLFIELD WOOD
A Friends of Gillfield Wood event held jointly with the Sorby Natural History Society
Well, it was a long time coming, our first outdoor event for over a year. How many people will turn up? Will it be a success?
We were so pleased that our dear friend, Val Clinging of Sorby Natural History Society, was only too happy to come along with the society’s mammal traps and once again help us to put on our own very special annual event.
It was Sunday October 10th (2021). It turned out to be a beautiful autumn morning, warm and sunny with Gillfield Wood tinged with those lovely autumn colours. As we gathered at the bottom of Totley Hall Lane for an 8.30 am start, the number of attendees grew to 20 adults and 10 children. Excellent, a great turnout. With much chatting and excitement, we all set off to the wood.
A total of 17 mammal traps had been set the previous evening at two separate sites. The traps we use are specially designed Longworth traps that capture mammals live for inspection. Each trap is carefully set and contains food and bedding for any creature that is caught and spends the night inside the trap.
10 of the traps had been set in an open glade; the first site. As the group gathered around with eager anticipation, the traps were collected from various spots nearby and the children stared intently to see whether the traps had been triggered and were closed, with the possibility of a mammal inside. Gradually the contents of the traps were emptied into individual plastic bags. There was an explosion of “oohs” and “aahs”, not just from the children, as the first of the mammals scurried into view. It was a Wood mouse, the first of five caught at this site. They were all very fit and lively and were quite young animals. Val explained the different features of the mouse; large eyes, long tail, light brown coat colour and very active. They were carefully transferred into small plastic containers to be examined more closely by the group and then released shortly afterwards into the same area of the glade. Again, this created a great deal of excitement as the children, standing perfectly still, watched these small creatures skipping away over the low ground cover, right in front of them.
The other 7 traps had been set in the second site. This site was near to the brook, a damp area with banking. The group waited patiently on the main footpath in the wood, as the traps were collected and brought back for inspection. On this occasion, not only had another Wood mouse been caught but 3 Bank Voles had as well. This meant that the two species could be easily compared and Val was able to point out the different features of the Bank Vole; tiny ears, short tail, a dumpier creature with darker coat. Children, filled with enthusiasm, were now confidently distinguishing between the two species. Everyone had great views of both before all four mammals were released back into their same area. A total of 9 animals from 17 traps was a very good result for a “one off” trapping session.
It is such a pleasure to organise this event each year and see so many smiling faces as families come together and experience the wildlife in our local wood. On this occasion we even had a skein of Pink Footed Geese fly over the wood; they were calling, so parents were able to point out the flock as it passed overhead. Another special moment for all.
Monday 8th November: Hedgehogs by Jo Wilkinson, our first Zoom meeting
Monday 6th December: Swifts by John Ellicock.