On 12th April we set out four transects, three of which had been surveyed in November 2011 and one again in June 2012. In Middlemead one transect ran along the NW ditch, the other ran in parallel about 20 metres away in the field. In Westmead another repeat transect was set out along the NW ditch and a new transect was placed out in the field.
In total 10 animals were caught over five checks; 4 Common Shrews, 3 Field Voles and 4 Wood Mice. Captured animals were marked by fur clipping, so we know we only recaptured 1 vole. However, we probably did recapture one of the shrews but it managed to escape unseen from the trap. The low number of recaptures and the fact we were still capturing new animals on the final check indicate that we are only managing to catch a small proportion of the population.
As in 2011, the majority of the catches were in Westmead alongside the NW ditch; where there is good cover provided tall sedges, trees and shrubs. We caught 3 Common shrews, 1 Field Vole and 1 Wood Mouse. However, no Bank Voles were found, whereas in 2011 we caught 10 there.
The two transects placed out in the fields also had catches; 1 Common and 2 Wood Mice in Middlemead, and 2 Field Voles in Westmead. When the Middlemead transect was surveyed in 2011 two Field Voles were caught. There is plenty of evidence of Field Voles throughout the long tussocky grass in both fields and so it’s certain they are there even though the catch rate is low. In fact when we set the traps we spotted one running through the long grass in Westmead.
The transect along the NW ditch of Middlemead has proved a bit disappointing, despite the good vegetation cover, with no animals caught this year and last year. Although in 2011 we caught 1 Bank Vole and 3 Wood Mice there. We had a faint hope of catching Harvest Mice, whose nests were found there in December. Although they don’t usually enter longworth traps that are placed on the ground.
Many thanks to everyone who braved the rain to join us.