Small mammal surveying 

Almost the end of 30 days wild and today the rains came. It didn’t just rain, it poured, soaking through boots and waterproofs, leaving us damp and cool. That didn’t stop us though, we had a very good reason to be outside today. 

Last night we set Longworth Traps to survey for small mammals, so that the presence of different species on Clumber Park could be recorded. These traps were set along a hedge line in a field next to Hardwick Village. 

So, as much as the pouring rain may have meant it would be nice to be inside, at 7.30am we were off to see who’d her investigating the traps overnight. We weren’t disappointed! Out of the nineteen traps, we found three bank voles, and one little wood mouse. We checked their sex, then quickly released them back into the hedgerow. 

Resetting the traps, topping up with food and dry bedding, we headed inside for a reprieve from the rain. After a hearty breakfast and a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity (outrageous but hilarious in equal measure!) we were back outside for a walk through the pleasure grounds, raindrops dancing on our heads. The cedar avenue towered over us, while plant galls added unique patterns to hazel leaves. 

Clumber’s beautiful chapel, a cathedral in miniature, gave welcome respite from the deluge and we were treated to a behind the scenes look up the bell tower, although I was too chicken to climb the wobbly ladder to the bell platform! 

We explored the visitor centre, a tank of water creatures from the lake was particularly interesting and I loved this larger than life beetle! At lunchtime we were back out to check the mammal traps. 2 bank voles had braved the rain to investigate the traps, beautiful brown balls of fur. 

After some time to relax in the afternoon, which for me meant a visit to the second hand bookshop to pick up some vintage natural history books to add to my growing collection, it was time for one final check of the traps at this location. 

This time, we had a third species! A common shrew had made its way into one of the traps. We also found two bank voles, including one lactating female, all checked and released quickly. The shrew’s nose was amazing, twitching and exploring, almost a miniature trunk for a tiny creature. It was a real highlight to see him! 

The field these traps were in was home to two longhorn cows and their beautiful calves, who graciously moved slowly away to allow us to check the traps, eyeing us warily as we ducked down into the hedgerow. 

The final task for the day was to resite the traps in the wetland area so we could see if any different species could be found in that area. Traps set, rain still falling, we headed inside to dry off and warm up, after the heatwave of last week, June was now surprisingly chilly! 

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