By John Wright, volunteer
The story began when my wife Pam and I went to a Tees Valley Wildlife Trust (TVWT) small mammal workshop. This was to enable us to trap and identify small mammals. TVWT want to identify which small mammals live in each area of Tees Valley to improve and preserve the habitat for mammals.
To support TVWT I thought why don’t we do a survey of the Guisborough Priory Woodland Gardens. So I arranged for Kenny and Katy, the small mammal experts from TVWT, to give some of our volunteers a ‘teach in’ on how to set small mammal traps. The teach in included what food and bedding should be put in the traps which is important as some small mammals have to eat their own body weight every twelve hours.
We put out some traps and left them open for two days, to let the mammals familiarize themselves with the traps/food. Then we set the traps at different places in the gardens and checked them later to see whether we had been successful. There had never been a small mammal survey of our gardens so we didn’t know what we would discover.
A week later we set the traps again in a different part of the gardens. In our traps we found several Wood Mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), two Common Shrews (Soren araneus) and two Bank Voles (Myodes glareolus).
Although we didn’t discover anything rare in our gardens the data will be kept by TVWT as a useful baseline for the Trust and ourselves.
It may be useful if we carry out another survey, say in five years’ time, to see if we find any differences.
Thanks to Kenny and to Katy for teaching us something new and allowing us to borrow their traps. Thanks also to the volunteers for participating.