Category Archives: survey

A surprise find

A small mammal survey on two Langdyke reserves at Etton and Maxey came up with a surprise find.

Steve and Liz Lonsdale, who are licensed to carry out the surveys found two house mice – not the type of mouse normal found outside – alongside the allotment area at Etton’s High Meadow.

A number of wood mice were found at both reserves as well – including the one in the main picture above.

Steve busy checking one of the traps

Steve explained: “The House Mice were unexpected – nowadays they are only found near grain stores or chicken farms. 

“It is possible that they have been introduced into the allotment area as part of a chicken manure or other delivery.”

The surveys were conducted at High Meadow and in North Wood at Etton Maxey Pits – the first time this area has been surveyed.
Liz Lonsdale recording the weight of one of the finds

At High Meadow 42 Longworth ‘live traps’ were set on the evening of Saturday August 22, and checked at 12 hourly intervals until the morning of Monday August 24.

32 of the traps were set in pairs around the edge of the north-eastern meadow, and the remaining 10 in pairs around the barn and allotment. There was a reasonable capture rate of a variety of species: wood mice, field voles and common shrew but Bank voles proved elusive.

Sunday Morning: 10 Wood Mice; 1 Bank Vole
Sunday Evening: 1 Field Vole; 6 Common Shrews; 1 Pygmy Shrew
Monday Morning: 12 Wood Mice (including 2 recaptures); 2 House Mice; 12 Common Shrews (including 3 recaptures).
The high catch rates and low recapture rates indicate a good population of Wood Mice and Common Shrews.

Etton-Maxey – Saturday  August29 to Monday  August 31
14 Longworth ‘live traps’ were set on the Saturday , and a further 28 on that evening.  The traps were checked at 12 hourly intervals until the morning of Monday August 31. The traps were set in three groups in north meadow.

Saturday Evening: 2 Field Voles;
Sunday Morning: 5 Field Voles (inc 2 recaptures); 1 Common Shrew; 9 Wood Mice
Sunday Evening 4 Field Voles (inc 3 recaptures); 3 Common Shrews (inc 1 recapture); 2 Wood Mice (inc 1 recapture);
Monday Morning: 3 Field Voles (inc 1 recapture); 6 Common Shrews (inc 1 recapture); 6 Wood Mice (inc 3 recaptures); Catch rates were marginally higher than expected, which would indicate good populations of small mammals.  

Steve and Liz have been surveying for mammals (and small mammals in particular) for more than 30 years, starting in Derbyshire, where they had significant input into the Derbyshire Mammal Atlas, and for the last five years around here since we moved to Maxey.

Steve said: “Most of the surveys we do are in sites chosen by us where we think it would be productive /useful to have some idea of the species present, sometimes as part of national surveys, sometimes as part of local surveys or for local groups, and sometimes on our own to generate useful records.
“Where appropriate we approach the landowner / wildlife group (in this case Langdyke CT) for permission to survey, but the responsibility for the session lies with us. All our records (not just specific survey records) are fed into (what is now), iRecord, where they are visible to all iRecord users, and also to the local wildlife group / landowner as appropriate.
“In order to survey using live traps for small mammals, including shrews, we have to hold a licence. Where others are present who do not have a licence we are responsible for the welfare of the animals being surveyed for.
“Live trapping can be done at any time of year, and indeed some groups do so throughout the year. However, our methodology is to check the traps every 12 hours, and to do so in daylight we only trap between April and September.”
Most  of the live traps they use (‘Longworths’) are made of aluminium and so, even while bedding and food are supplied within them, they can be cold overnight in winter.
“Our methodology is to set traps in an evening session, and check them the following morning, evening, and again the following morning (ie 1 session to set and 3 to check).
“Small mammals vary in their habits, and so we expect different species in the morning and evening sessions; some animals are ‘trap-shy’, so they take longer to catch, hence the 3 checking sessions rather than 1.

New birds on the reserve

Five new species of birds were seen on the Etton Maxey Reserve during 2019, according to a fascinating survey report completed by Langdyke’s Bob Titman.

They included Great (white) Egret, a Purple Heron, Hen Harrier, Common Stonechat and a Common Raven.

Purple Heron. Photo: Brian Lawrence

According to Bob’s records none of them have been spotted at the reserve before.

He recorded a total of 122 different species during his visits in the year.

Other notable sightings included:

  • A starling murmuration of around 3,000 birds
  • 114 mallard spotted on one occasion
  • 54 northeren shoveler seen at the same time

Although European turtle doves have not built a nest on the reserves there is evidence that they have been breeding just a few hundred metres away from the reserve.

Operation Turtle Dove was also set up to feed and attract them to the site and this was  a big success during the year.

Turtle Doves Photo: Brian Lawrence

There are two reports compiled by Bob on the website under the science and surveys section of our site.
They are:  breeding birds survey here  and waders at Etton Maxey here

  • There were also reports of a 30,000 starling murmuration over the reserve but this does not figure in Bob’s eyewitness report

Autumn ladies tresses survey

The autumn ladies tresses at Swaddywell are an important part  of Swaddywell, writes Jean Stowe.

We have been keeping an eye on them for fouryears. The species is rare in our area, but much more common in the south of England.

Our recent survey findings are now on this website under the science and surveys section here

Heath Road flora survey report


Jean Stowe reports that a  project undertaken in early August by the Western Reserves group was timely for the Trust’s 20th Anniversary.

Chris Topper had a list of flowers and grasses found in Heath Road, dating from before 1999. The time of year of the survey wasn’t stated. Revisiting the same stretch of road, from the cross roads in the south to the water station further north (nearer Helpston village) permitted changes in the biodiversity to be assessed.

The results were encouraging. The pre-1999 list consisted of 140 species. In 2019 all but 27 species were refound. To balance this there were about 17 new records. This means that the shortfall over 20 years was about 10 species. Given factors such as timing of the two surveys, this seems very little indeed.

Full details of the survey can be found in the surveys area of this website here