MISE & Menter Môn will be conducting an Otter survey on Anglesey on Saturday 26th May. This follows on from the coastal otter survey conducted in 2011, where we found evidence of otters at a number of sites across the island. This year we will survey a number of inland freshwater sites, aiming to collect spraint for DNA analysis.
We are aiming to survey a number of different sites on the day, so we would appreciate help from anybody with previous experience of Otter surveys who would be willing to show others what to look for. If you haven’t done this before, you will be very welcome – any help will be much appreciated!
If you are able to take part, please let Ceri know by Friday 18th May indicating your level of experience. I will then send you further details of the event. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 13th August
Red Squirrel Survey
- Photo by Linda Priestley
Red squirrels are among Wales’ most rare and threatened mammals, and mid Wales is one of only three places left in Wales that still have significant red squirrel populations.
46 Volunteers gathered near Pumsaint to carry out a red squirrel survey in the Tywi forest in August 2011. The survey tookplace in Bryn Arau Duon, a commercial timber producing forest, where red squirrel conservation has beencarried out over the last 10 years. Teams of two or three people walked slowly and quietly along allocated sections of forest tracks to record signs and sightings of red squirrels. Feeding signs were recorded throughout the wood and, although no squirrels were spotted on the day, a camera trap set up on one of the squirrel feeders had captured some images of squirrels a couple of days before. When a small team returned a week later to complete the survey they spotted a red squirrel feeding at the top of a spruce tree and were able to watch it for about 20 minutes. Volunteers also collected any scats that might be pine marten and these were sent to Waterford for DNA analysis. Of the 16 scats analysed 12 were fox and 4 were neither fox nor pine marten, highlighting the difficulty in identifying scats by their appearance alone.
Otter survey training day
volunteers examining spraint at Cwmtydu
The weather was lovely for the morning of our otter survey training, while we were inside! However, despite torrential rain in the afternoon, we still spent an enjoyable few hours with Geoff Liles showing everyone how to spot otter spraint, and several spraint samples were collected at Cwmtydu and Aberaeron. On Sunday, teams of volunteers were each given one or two 1km squares along the coast between Cardigan and Aberystwyth to survey, putting into practice what they’d learnt from Geoff. A total of 18 1km squares were surveyed and 13 of these had spraint present. The highest density of spraint was at Aberporth, but Aberarth and Aberaeron also had lots of signs of otter. Results of DNA analysis can be found here
Going nuts for dormice!
Volunteers were asked to join a hunt for signs of dormice at several sites including Dolgellau, some sites in Carmarthenshire and at Denmark Farm in Ceredigion. Dormice leave distinctive tooth marks when they gnaw into hazelnuts and volunteers were asked to comb the woods in search of the discarded kernels that prove that dormice are present. Volunteers were also shown how to tell the difference between nuts that have been nibbled by dormice and those opened by other small mammals, such as bank voles, wood mice and squirrels. Positive signs were found at two new sites in Carmarthenshire. Nest boxes have also been put up at a site in north Ceredigion and these will be monitored throughout the summer when dormice are active.
N Wales Coastal Otter diet workshop 18th & 19th February 2012
A group of volunteers rolled up their sleeves to find out more about what otters eat in North Wales – at a MISE workshop on the 18th and 19th February at Treborth Botanic Gardens. Over 40 volunteers dissected otter spraints to see what they could find. The remains of eels, marine and freshwater fish, crabs, amphibians and even birds and mice were all among the findings – more than 23 different prey species in all. The spraints were collected by volunteers last year along the North Wales coast. Mammal ecologist Rob Strachan helped the volunteers identify fish bones, jaws and even mammal teeth as they picked the spraints apart.