MammalWeb Newsletter January 2022

Published on January 25th 2022

MammalWeb Newsletter January 2022

Hello everybody and welcome to the January issue of the MammalWeb Newsletter. We hope that you have had a lovely festive period, and that 2022 is treating you well so far!

Mammals may seem elusive in winter because, compared to other times of year, it is a period of low activity for most. However, the winter months are a good opportunity to brush up on your field knowledge! Prints and tracks become much easier to spot in the snow, frost, or mud, so keep your eyes peeled. Alongside other signs such as evidence of feeding, you can begin to build up a picture of key commuting routes, which can be very helpful if you use targeted camera trap placements. 

In this newsletter we have December’s spotter league - with a 2021 overview, tips on how to help our hedgehogs, and a volunteering opportunity from the British Carnivore Project. We also announce the winner of our Christmas camera trap competition is announced! As usual, we also have advertised online talks, our monthly mammal fact and the camera trap quiz too.

We love hearing from you, and if you have anything that you would like to be included in next month’s newsletter, please get in touch at  info@PROTECTED 


December 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
351913853

 

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects.  


December 2021 Spotter League

Congratulations to our top ten spotters! Well done to all, your hard work is always appreciated. 
PositionUser
1herefordstu
2Luko
3Jimmytheeel
4annedonnelly
5Gingerfox1971
6Gven
7WendyM
8Checchi
9PetaSams
10RustyKnight07

 


2021 Overview

We wanted to congratulate you all for your contributions throughout 2021 and to give you an insight to the statistics. Well done to everybody involved, we're very impressed!
Sequences uploadedSequences classified
88057148438

 

It's great to see that classification is outstripping uploads (almost 1.7:1)! Given that we need to get multiple classifiations per sequence or video, this is essential for us to make sense of the data.

2021 New Participants

We had a total of 58 new trappers in 2021, this was up from 44 new trappers in 2020 – let’s see if we can beat it again this year! Thank you to new and veteran trappers!

A remarkable 467 new spotters participated in MammalWeb for the first time last year. That is as many new spotters as we gained in the whole of 2018 and 2019 combined!

2021 Spotter League

Below is the league table for the whole of 2021, showing the top 10 spotters for the year. Congratulations to all of you, and thanks for such a sustained contribution over the year!
PositionUser
1cam trap
2TerriM
3emma_hummingbird
4PetaSams
5shellsmoore
6herefordstu
7vivcoy
8gcsmith
9Hector Gonzalez
10rainmac


How to help hedgehogs all year round

Hedgehogs are one of our most loved native species, but numbers are in decline. Please see the article below from Love Garden Birds for a few tips on what you can do to give them a helping hand, all year round.

"Hedgehogs symbolise the British countryside, and they are under threat. Our spiky friends need all the help we can offer. What simple things can you do to protect the hedgehog in the wild?

First, one of the best things you can do is to create access into your garden or offer shelter. Cutting a hole in your fence means a hedgehog can wander into your garden and feed on the grubs in your soil. You can also plant a hedge or make/ purchase a hedgehog house. Somewhere, anywhere, where the hedgehog can shelter from predation and keep warm will help.

Second, leave out supplementary food and water. Cat and dog food is fine for hedgehogs, meat or biscuits is best. Remember to leave only water and not milk, as the hedgehog’s stomach doesn’t take well to lactose.

Finally, keep the hedgehog safe from harm when in your garden. Avoid using slug pellets. Not only can the pellets harm hedgehogs, but slugs are a great food source for them too. Additional safety measures include making sure your pond is safe and easy to escape should a critter accidentally fall in, and thoroughly checking the area before strimming or starting bonfires."


The British Carnivore Project Volunteering

Volunteers are being sought to take part as 'Citizen Scientists' in the British Carnivore Project (BCP), an on-going field study that aims to explore the minds of wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and European badgers (Meles meles). BCP was established in 2021 by Dr Blake Morton, a comparative psychologist from the University of Hull in England.

What is comparative psychology? Comparative psychology is an exciting field of study that focuses on understanding how animals' minds shape their behaviour. Understanding animal minds and behaviour is important to society, anywhere from helping us understand our own brains and behaviour, to identifying solutions to major global problems like welfare and conservation.

Why foxes and badgers? Foxes have relatively large brains and are one of the most widely distributed carnivorans on the planet. European badgers have relatively smaller brains and are not as adaptable in terms of geographic distribution. Comparisons between foxes and badgers provide a unique opportunity to study the relationship between relative brain size and environmental adaptability from species living in the same study areas

What will BCP volunteers do? Volunteers will be given a trail camera and puzzle feeder to test fox and/or badger behaviour. You will need to deploy the camera and puzzle in an area you live in and then check the camera every 3 days for 14 days. It is intended that there will be no direct human-animal contact and that animals will visit locations when people are not present.

What are the requirements for volunteering?

All equipment necessary for completing the work will be provided, but fuel expenses will not be covered and therefore volunteers will need to arrange transportation themselves.

To find out more, please contact Dr Blake Morton, Department of Psychology, University of Hull, UK. Email: BCP@PROTECTED


Christmas Camera Trap Competition Winner

Last month, we announced that we were running a Christmas camera trap competition in which every camera sequence classified between 18th December 2021 and 14th December 2022 counted as an entry.

We are very happy to announce that the winner of our festive camera trap competition is Stuart Moore from Herefordshire! A huge congratulations! Stuart was a worthy winner, having classified over 3000 sequences during the competition!

We would also like to extend a big thank you to everybody who has contributed over the festive period, we had around 18K sequences classified in total which is a huge achievement and an amazing start to 2022!


Events and Talks

Do you fancy catching up with conservation and learning more our native wildlife? Below are a handful of upcoming online events that might be of interest!

Over lockdown, a large number of organisations made talks and webinars on a variety of different topics. These are still available to watch online. Click on the links below to find out more.


Mammal Fact of the Month

Water vole are one of the UK’s fastest declining mammal species. Introduction of the American mink, habitat degradation and pollution have all contributed to its decline. As such, the species has, since 1998, been partially protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. However, in 2008 their protection was strengthened as it was evident that, without full protection, they would likely become extinct.


Camera Trap Quiz

Do you know your deer species? Well done if you correctly identified the roe deer in the image below! Roe deer are a small species and one of our two native species (the other being red deer). They are common across Britain and often seen on camera trap images!

If you fancy another challenge, check out this month’s newsletter camera trap quiz below. Movement can make identifying animals tricky, but the surrounding environment and shape of the tail may be helpful clues! The answer will be revealed in the next issue of the newsletter.

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more? We can be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

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MammalWeb Newsletter December 2021

Published on December 9th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter December 2021

Hello everyone and welcome to our final newsletter of the year! We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to MammalWeb in 2021! With winter in full swing, it is a difficult time for our wildlife, with many mammals reducing their activity to cope and many birds migrating. Recent storms have been tough for wildlife as well as people - with reports, for example, of mass mortality among grey seal pups at north-eastern breeding colonies. On the upside, winter is a great time for birdwatching, with redwings, ducks and many wading birds arriving in the UK from northern areas and eastern Europe. You might also be lucky enough to see starling murmurations in the evenings. Meanwhile, our summer visitors, such as swallows and cuckoos, are now in Africa where they will spend the winter.

Coming up in this newsletter are November’s spotter league, some exciting volunteering and job opportunities, and an update on our MammalNet-Ireland project. As always we have our monthly mammal fact and camera trap quiz. We are also running an exciting Christmas competition with the chance to win a camera trap!

We love hearing from you, and if you have anything that you would like to be included in next month’s newsletter, please get in touch at info@PROTECTED. We hope you have a lovely festive period and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!


November 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
435510700

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects.


November spotter league

Congratulations to our top ten spotters! Well done to all, your hard work is very much appreciated.
PositionUser
1LesleyF
2john durkin
3vkent
4RustyKnight07
5G_Fisher_1
6milfo
7cmlw71
8Satrus
9ehm02
10Sophia Brown

Keep an eye out for January's newsletter where we will have the top spotters of 2021!

In the next few weeks, keep an eye out on the spotter home page of our website under the "Contribute" tab. We will continue to promote the top 10 spotters in our newsletter, but the webpage will be dynamic so that you can see how close you are to being featured in the leader board!

If you are new to the site, you can read our ‘learn about spotting’ guide to get started!


Connecting Schools to Nature (Volunteering Opportunity)

In partnership with MammalWeb, the British Ecological Society is looking for volunteer environmental educators to join our ‘Connecting schools to nature in North East England’ project. Sign up here to gain access to a range of career development resources and support, as well as first-hand experiences in science communication and schools outreach to help inspire the next generation of ecologists (or even mammal experts!).

For more information, please see the British Ecological Society website, or get in touch with Alexa at alexa@PROTECTED. Thank you and we hope to see some of you on-board the project soon!


Rewilding Job Vacancies

Bunloit Rewilding Ltd are looking for a Chief Scientist to join their team on the Bunloit Estate on the shores of Loch Ness. The role will involve leading the research programme on the estate and leading the consultancy to Highlands Rewilding. For more information, visit the full job description here.

Highlands Rewilding Ltd are looking for an Operations Manager on the Beldorney Estate in Aberdeenshire. This is an exciting new project aiming to recover nature in the Highlands of Scotland. Candidates from a wide range of disciplines are encouraged to apply, for more information please see the job description by clicking here.

You can also contribute to Bunloit's work by classifying images from their camera traps. This can be found on the project page of our website, or by clicking here.


Mammal-Net Ireland Update

MammalNew-Ireland is a new citizen-science project in collaboration with Smartdeer, aiming to collect data on deer across Ireland. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project so far! We welcome contributions to classifying from anyone, whether you are based in Ireland or not.

Early indications are suggesting an overwhelming dominance of sika deer, an invasive non-native species in Ireland. Sika deer are originally from Japan and were introduced to Britain and Ireland in the 19th century. There are now naturalised populations in several areas of Britain and Ireland.

Sika pose a threat to native biodiversity and habitats in a number of ways. They damage trees with their antlers and by stripping bark from trees; they also browse on young shoots and seedlings, preventing woodland regeneration. Sika deer regularly hybridise with closely related red deer and threaten to permanently impact our largest native land mammal. This problem of hybridisation is especially prevalent in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland and in mainland Scotland.


Deer Identification

Current indications suggest there may have been some misclassification of deer on the MammalNet-Ireland project, so we have included a guide to help distinguish sika from the other deer species found in Britain and Ireland. The British Deer Society have more detailed information about the deer we find here, including distribution, behaviour and lifecycle. Our test yourself quizzes are also a great way to check your identification of many species found in our camera traps!

Sika Deer

Sika deer are medium-sized deer with a yellow-reddish brown coat with white spots in the winter which turns dark grey/black in the winter.

Fallow Deer

Fallow deer were also introduced to Britain, from the Mediterranean. Fallow deer are highly variable in appearance and many have white spots. This sometimes leads to confusion with sika deer, who have a spotted coat in the summer, though fallow deer's spots are present throughout the year.

Red Deer

In winter, sika deer are commonly mistaken for red deer, a closely related species with which sika regularly hybridise.

Roe Deer

Roe deer are a small species and one of our two native species (the other being red deer) they are common across Britain and often seen in camera traps.

Muntjac Deer

Muntjac deer are the smallest deer species found in the UK, originally from China, muntjac deer were introduced to Bedfordshire and are now found across southern England and the Midlands.

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese water deer, as the name suggests, originate in China but have established populations in the UK mainly confined to Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk which originated from escapees from Whipsnade Zoo in 1929.


New to the Team

We have a new communications intern starting this month, taking over from Tom Wright, who has moved on to focus on his new role as an animal management instructor at Reaseheath College. We are enormously grateful to Tom for all his voluntary work for MammalWeb, and the energy he brough to the role. We wish him success in his new job. Our new intern, Libby, will be working with Caitlin and the rest of the team to manage the social media accounts and emails, and the write the monthly newsletter: 

Hi, my name is Libby and I’m excited to be working with the MammalWeb team as a communications intern. I am an incoming masters student at St Andrews researching nest building in blue tits! I’m particularly interested in science communication and encouraging people from all backgrounds to get involved with nature and conservation.


Events and Talks

Do you fancy catching up with conservation and learning more our native wildlife? Below are a handful of upcoming online events that might be of interest!

Over lockdown, a large number of organisations made talks and webinars on a variety of different topics. These are still available to watch online. Click on the links below to find out more.


MammalWeb Christmas Competition!

This year we would like to thank you for your contributions by giving you the opportunity to win a camera trap! Every MammalWeb Britain sequence classified between 18th December - 14th January will give you a ticket entered into a prize draw and the winner will receive a new camera trap from us! We will announce the winner on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and in next month's newsletter. Best of luck - and get spotting!


Mammal Fact of the Month

The males of most deer species grow antlers - used to fight other males for access to females - annually. But did you know that reindeer are the only deer species where the females also grow antlers? These are used to defend scarce patches of food from other females. As the UK only has one small herd of reindeer in the Cairngorms, you can be reasonably sure that any deer you see with antlers is male.


Camera Trap Quiz

Last month's camera trap quiz was a stoat hidden in the undergrowth! Well done if you got this right. Stoats are mustelids and can be difficult to tell apart from weasels. Stoats are larger than weasels and have a black tip to their tail. The Mammal Society has some handy ID guides with more information.

This month we have an opportunity to test your deer identification skills! What UK deer species is captured here? The answer will be in next month's newsletter!

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more? We can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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MammalWeb Newsletter November 2021

Published on November 23rd 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter November 2021

Hello everybody and welcome to another issue of the MammalWeb newsletter; it's lovely to see so many new and returning subscribers. November brings cooler weather: some of our UK mammals will be looking to hibernate, others will decrease their activity levels to conserve energy. It is also nearing the start of fox breeding season, so you may hear more calling at this time of year.

This issue contains October’s sequence stats, our spotter league, an update on the Bonfire Night project, information on our new image manipulation tool and COP26, as well as an exciting opportunity for schools, upcoming talks, our usual mammal fact of the month and the camera trap quiz.

We love hearing from you, and if you have anything that you would like to be included in next month’s newsletter, please get in touch at  info@PROTECTED


October 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
716410520

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. 


October spotter league

Congratulations to our top ten spotters, it's lovely to see so many new names in the mix this month! Well done to all, your hard work is always appreciated. 
PositionUser
1jacqueline.mott
2nmenzies
3LSB
4PetaSams
5Conjamfin
6Musty
7TerriM
8john durkin
9Edward_Pollard
10Rochesterj

 

Did you know that classifying just 92 sequences will get you into our top 500 of all time? To date, the average number of classifications needed to get into our monthly top 10 is 260 – do you think you’d be able to beat this? Why not challenge yourself to classify an extra 10 sequences per visit to the site to begin with, and try to work your way up?

In the next few weeks, keep an eye out on the spotter home page of our website under the contribute tab. We will continue to promote the top 10 spotters in our newsletter, but this webpage will be dynamic so that you can see how close you are to being featured in the leader board!

If you are new to the site, you can read our ‘learn about spotting’ guide to get started! Find out who will be top of the league this month in our next newsletter.


New image manipulation tool

We are excited to announce that there is a brand-new manipulation tool on our website to be used when classifying sequences! When selected, it inverts the video or image in question so that lighter parts become darker and vice-versa.

The feature can be found in the top right-hand corner of the shot, next to the ‘location’ button (see image below). Here, we see an instance where the flash of the camera has compromised the quality of the shot. In the inverted image, some people will find it easier to see the outline of the fox as it stands out from the background scenery.

Above: Un-inverted image of a fox
Above: Inverted image of a fox

We have found that this is especially useful for clips that contain a lot of vegetation. When inverted, it is much quicker to spot any wildlife that may be hiding and provides reassurance that nothing has been missed! Below are a few more examples.

Above: un-inverted image of a squirrel tail
Above: inverted image of a squirrel tail
Above: un-inverted image of a muntjac deer
Above: inverted image of a muntjac deer

Its effectiveness will depend on how your eye perceives the contrasts - but it is a handy tool and a long-term feature request from contributors! We encourage you to go and give it a try!


A call for spotters - Bonfire night 2021 project

Some of you may remember that in last month’s newsletter we were asking for trappers with cameras out in urban areas to contribute their footage to our ‘Bonfire Night 2021’ project. We recieved a lot of image data - but, principally, from 3 sites. Many thanks to those who contributed these data.

We are now looking for volunteers to help with classifying the images or videos that people have submitted so that we can see whether there's a suggestion that Guy Fawkes celebrations have had an impact on our native wildlife. This is an important task that would not be possible without you! We are massively grateful to everybody that has already contributed as a spotter.

Once the data have been adequately classified, we will combine them with other data submitted during the same period to determine whether any changes around the weekend of 5th-7th November are detectable. 

The project can be found on the project page of our website, or by clicking here. If you have any questions, please get in touch via email at info@PROTECTED


Bunloit rewilding at COP26

In the wake of COP26, we wanted to bring attention to the work of the Bunloit Rewilding Team and congratulate everybody that helped to classify the project on our website. On 11th November, the team launched their Natural Capital Report at an event held in Glasgow at COP26. There, partners shared their experiences and what they have learnt about developing carbon and biodiversity baselines for the Bunloit estate on the western shore of Loch Ness.

Bunloit Rewilding has four main aims:

To achieve their aims, Bunloit Rewilding has set several impact goals:

With the help of MammalWeb spotters, 859 sequences have been classified to date, which has given a good initial snapshot of the animal species present on the estate and where they are. With the classifications you contributed, they were also able to identify whether the animals captured in images are of an adult, juvenile or unknown, providing a better understanding of the population dynamics. On the estate, it was found that sika deer were the most numerous mammal species, by far - accounting for 53% of all classifications, so far. Wild boar classifications came in second at 12% of overall classifications.

The project can expand upon the baseline data received to target further biodiversity improvements in the future. You can read the full 2021 report here.


Green Recovery Fund

You may have seen in a previous newsletter that MammalWeb is part of a partnership that received funding for the project ‘Connecting schools to nature in North East England’. You can read more about the project on our webpage hereWe’re excited to announce that teachers / schools can now apply to take part via the link below! 

APPLY HERE  

Schools who take part in this project will receive over £1000 worth of equipment to make your school ground more nature friendly, receive in-person classroom workshops delivered by British Ecological Society staff and volunteers, and gain opportunities for teacher training and CPD sessions, as well as access to a range of physical and digital resources, including a new web platform co-created with teachers to engage with the project. Any primary school located within the north east of England is welcome to apply. Please share this opportunity with any teacher / school you think may be interested! 

There will be the chance for 50 schools to take part in the project; however, there may be opportunities for more schools to access resources as they become available or to take part in future projects. Applications will close on 24th November, and applicants will be contacted the w/c 29th November

Should you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Alexa (alexa@PROTECTED) or Sammy (sammy@PROTECTED) at the British Ecological Society.


Online talks and events

Do you fancy catching up with conservation and learning more our native wildlife? Below are a handful of upcoming online events that might be of interest!

Over lockdown, a large number of organisations made talks and webinars on a variety of different topics. These are still available to watch online, click on the links below to find out more.


Mammal fact of the month

Unlike rabbits, brown hares do not use burrows, but instead make shallow depressions in the ground or grass known as forms. They have a preference for feeding at night, so unless disturbed, they will spend most of the day on or near the form. 


Camera trap quiz

Well done to everybody who correctly identified the pine marten in the last issue of the newsletter as individual FD03! The distinctive outline of the bib and the extent to which it comes up the chin makes the answer stand out from the other options!

If you would like to have another go at classifying pine marten individuals, you can find more information about our Forest of Dean pine martens project here.

The quiz this month is a tricky one! Can you spot what animal is hiding in the undergrowth? If so, do you know what species it is? The answer will be revealled in the December issue of the newsletter! 

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more? We can be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. We took a short break from the quiz posts during November, but they will return at the begining of December! 

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MammalWeb Newsletter October 2021

Published on October 25th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter October 2021

Hello to new and returning subscribers! Welcome to the October issue of the MammalWeb newsletter! We hope that you are all keeping well. The nights are drawing in and it is definitely beginning to feel Autumnal. It is such a fantastic time of year as the trees are full of colour and there is still plenty of wildlife to keep an eye out for.

We hope that you enjoy this issue, it is jam packed with the September sequence stats and spotter league, details of a new Bonfire Night 2021 project, a Mammal Society featured blog post, a list of upcoming online talks for National Mammal Week, our mammal fact of the month, and our camera trap quiz.

We love hearing from you, and if you have anything that you would like to be included in next month’s newsletter, please get in touch at info@PROTECTED


September 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
51485435

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. 


September spotter league

Congratulations to our top ten spotters, its lovely to see some new and familiar names in the mix this month! Well done to all, your hard work is always appreciated. Find out who will be top of the league this month in our next newsletter.
PositionUser
1PetaSams
2TerriM
3shellsmoore
4Gven
5RustyKnight07
6hkwatson
7vivcoy
8Sam Seymour
9LSB
10Eloisemae


New project - bonfire night 2021

Calling all garden and urban trappers!! We’re asking if any footage captured between 28th October and 15th November could please be uploaded to our new ‘Bonfire Night 2021’ project.

There is often a focus on domestic animals such as cats and dogs at the time of Guy Fawkes’ celebrations, but little on the impact to our native wildlife. The ‘Bonfire Night 2021’ project has therefore been created to seek evidence for the impacts of this activity on wildlife, particularly changes in behaviour. Fireworks especially can have a negative effect, causing anxiety and stress which can often be captured on trail cameras. This year, with some large displays again not running, it is possible that we will see an increase in garden fireworks which would in turn increase the scope of the impact.

It is important that we have well represented dataset, so the more people involved the better! We are hoping that if evidence for the impact of bonfire celebrations can be well documented, more can be done to put alternative celebrations in place.

Don’t own a camera trap or live in a rural area? We would also be enormously grateful for any contributions to the task of classifying what is in the images submitted!

After 15th November when the project is complete, we will subsume the images into the wider MammalWeb-Britain project.

The project can be found on the project page of our website, or by clicking here. If you have any questions, please get in touch via email at info@PROTECTED


Forest of Dean pine martens

Most of you will know Sian Green for her contributions to running MammalWeb alongside her PhD that is focused on improving engagement and assessing camera trap methods and their impacts on both engagement and ecological inferences. Recently, Sian has also been working with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, using camera traps to study pine martens that were previously reintroduced to the Forest of Dean.

It is very important to monitor the success of a re-introduction programme to know if a new, stable population has been created. After an initial study revealed that the Forest was not adequate for monitoring pine martens at a low density, a different approach (involving baiting the camera trap points with eggs and peanut butter!) was trialled this time. Baiting increased the chance of pine marten detection, and also increased the amount of time that an individual would spend in front of a camera. In turn, it made it possible to closely inspect the creamy coloured bib on the chin/ chest of each pine marten and differentiate individuals based off the pattern of their markings. Knowing which individuals are using what areas of the Forest means that a detailed profile can be built that can then be used to learn about the ecology of the species in the area. 

Identifying individual pine martens by classifying camera trap footage can be time consuming if working alone, and with many conservation projects short on time and funds, citizen scientists such as yourselves are invaluable!  

If you would like to have a go at spotting, you can find the Forest of Dean Pine Martens project on our website. The project has been running on MammalWeb for a while now, but new images are uploaded regularly and any contributions are greatly appreciated.

Sian’s research featured in a Mammal Society student spotlight. Read the full article here. You can also check out our camera trap quiz at the end of the newsletter if you would like to practise classifying individuals before entering the project.


Online talks and events

Monday 25th October to Sunday 31st October Mammal Society are hosting National Mammal Week, and as such, there are some great upcoming talks that may be of interest to you. Most are free to attend!

A large number of organisations now prefer to make their talks and webinars remote. If you have missed any, or would like to browse what is available, use the below links as a starting point (there are many more fantastic organisations that have talks and webinars also still available to watch!).

Prefer reading to watching? To celebrate Mammal Week NHBS are offering a 20% discount on Mammal Society published books! They have a great collection of books from general guides to mitigation handbooks on Britain’s Mammals – click here to browse the collection!


Mammal fact of the month

Beavers are ecosystem engineers! By building dams, they are able to create new wetland habitats that can benefit a huge range of species! Dams can also improve water quality downstream as they can capture agricultural runoff.


Camera trap quiz

The animal in last month’s camera trap quiz was a fox! Well done to everyone that spotted it, it was a tricky one!

The quiz for this issue is below. Can you correctly identify the individual pine marten in the sequence of camera trap images below? It is the same individual in all three shots, and it can be identified by its unique bib pattern – give it a go and the answer will be revealed in the November newsletter.

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more?! We can be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

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MammalWeb Newsletter September 2021

Published on September 21st 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter September 2021

Hello and welcome to another issue of the MammalWeb newsletter! Summer seems to be coming to an end and Autumn is just around the corner. In recent weeks, you may have noticed flocks of swallows or house martens becoming restless as they begin to migrate. Late summer is also an excellent time to see water voles as bank-side vegetation isn’t quite so tall and youngsters have matured enough to leave their burrows to feed. 

Included in this month’s newsletter is our sequence stats and spotter league, a summary of the newest projects, species identification top tips, online talks and events, our mammal fact of the month, and of course our monthly camera trap quiz.

We love hearing from you, and if you have anything that you would like to be included in next month’s newsletter, please get in touch at info@PROTECTED


August 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
15886733

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. 


August spotter league

Congratulations to our top ten spotters, its lovely to see some new and familiar names in the mix this month! Well done to all, your hard work is always appreciated. Find out who will be top of the league this month in our next newsletter.
PositionUser
1MKII
2DurhamMonitor
3Echo.Lawrence
4vivcoy
5diana crane
6wolfee
7Bob Philpott
8Andyp
9hancock_urban
10Luko


New projects

We are extremely excited to introduce you to our latest projects below, if you would like to take part in classifying any of our projects, you can find more information here

Small mustelid camera trapping

Surveying for small mustelids such as stoats and weasels can be notoriously difficult. Sightings are infrequent and field signs are hard to detect. For many hard-to-survey mammal species, camera trapping has proved a good alternative; however, their small size and speedy movements make small mustelids elusive quarry for most camera trappers. Stoats and weasels are thought to be widespread and abundant across Britain but, with no reliable survey methods, there is very little data on their populations.

In an effort to combat this data deficiency, the Vincent Wildlife Trust is currently trialling a new kind of camera trap setup, designed to increase detectability of small mustelids. Called ‘Mostelas’, the setup consists of a wooden box with a piece of piping running through it, and with the side of the pipe contained within the box being open. Within the box, a camera trap is placed facing the open pipe. The Mostelas are then placed in likely habitat, such as field margins, woodland edges and in hedgerows. Small mustelids are curious, and the hope is that they will enter the box and investigate, slowing them down and directing them into the field of view of the camera trap inside the box.

This project aims to determine whether Mostelas could be an effective way to survey for small mustelids and so at each site where a Mostela box is located, an additional camera trap facing the Mostela entrance is placed. This will show whether animals are entering the box or whether they are just passing by. So far, it seems that the boxes are a big hit with the local weasel population, with lots of footage of weasels inside the Mostelas and even pairs of weasels coming in to play. Surprise visitors to the Mostelas include polecats, who also seem to enjoy running in and out of the tunnels and rolling around in the boxes!

A large number of small mammals such as mice, voles and shrews are also visiting the camera sites and both the cameras in the Mostelas and the external cameras are collecting large volumes of videos which the Vincent Wildlife Trust now needs help in sorting through. This project is a great place to see footage of species such as weasel and polecat rarely seen on other camera trap projects as well as some interesting animal behaviour as they enter the boxes. At the same time, you will be actively contributing to development of better mustelid survey methods.

Thornhill Carrs Nature Reserve

This 30-hectare area of former farmland is a unique site, rare within The Peak District National Park for its unmanaged Wildness. It is currently home to a fantastic array of wild wood land, scrub and beautiful wildflower meadows.

Thornhill is a steep sided valley, dominated by extensive hawthorn scrub and open glades. The reserve is important for summer bird migrants, with blackcap, chiff chaff and willow warbler all audible as they take advantage of this ever rarer habitat. In July, the site is rich in wildflowers which attract many species of bee, butterfly and hoverfly. It is a new site that Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has managed since spring 2020, and a new approach is planned for its management, allowing nature to dictate how the site evolves. There will be grazing animals on the site in very low numbers to keep the clearings open by keeping the scrub and bramble in check.

As part of a wider monitoring programme, camera traps are being used to establish a baseline for wildlife at Thornhill Carrs. To learn more, and to get involved in classifying the project, head to the website here


Identifying species

Whilst classifying mammals for a MammalWeb project, you may also stumble upon local birdlife that has also been captured on camera. Below is a quick guide to some of the commoner birds that you may come across! Images are courtesy of RSPB.


Online talks and events

Do you fancy catching up with conservation and learning more our native wildlife? Below are a handful of upcoming online events!

Over lockdown, a large number of organisations made talks and webinars on a variety of different topics. These are still available to watch online, click on the links below to find out more.


Mammal fact of the month

Did you know that Scotland’s Water Voles have different ancestry to the rest of the UK? Scottish water voles are black and descended from Iberian animals. Those found in elsewhere in the UK are brown and are the descendants of animals from South-East Europe.

Camera trap quiz

Well done to everyone that correctly identified last month’s newsletter camera trap quiz as a capercaillie! This very rare UK bird can be found in parts of Scotland, often confined to native pinewoods.

This month’s quiz can be found below. When animals are travelling, they can be much harder to identify! Any guesses as to what animal is in this shot? The answer will be revealed in the October issue of our newsletter!  

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more?! We can be found on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook

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MammalWeb Newsletter August 2021

Published on August 17th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter August 2021

Hello to all our brilliant MammalWeb users! We hope that you are all well and making the most of the unpredictable British summer. It's hard to believe that it is time for August’s newsletter already.

After all the hot, dry weather it is great to see some rain. Our wildlife will be grateful for it! The dry weather can be tough for species such as hedgehogs, making it difficult to find their favourite foods of slugs and snails. Some of you may have noticed that they are appearing earlier in the evenings in the hot weather, snuffling off in search of food.

In this newsletter, we will be bringing you: last month’s sequences statistics, the top 10 spotter league table, spotlight on the Vincent Wildlife Trust’s new plan for pine marten recovery, help with species identification, mammal fact of the month and our monthly camera trap quiz.


July 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
36269678

It's great that the MammalWeb is so popular! These statistics include all photos from the MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. 


July spotter league

It is time to reveal the top 10 spotters for July! It's brilliant to see that so many people regularly give their time to classifying footage!
PositionUser
1cam trap
2TerriM 
3PetaSams
4emma_hummingbird
5rahill
6vivcoy
7sammykwild
8shellsmoore
9brinmar2000
10diana crane


Exciting News  

We’re excited to announce that MammalWeb has been awarded funding from the UK Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.  The funded project is led by the British Ecological Society, in partnership with SMASH-UK, an engagement charity.  It aims to deliver a green transformation to 50 schools in the North East of England and to create the ‘Environmental Educators of tomorrow’.  Specifically, we hope to increase the connection of school pupils to nature, collaborating with teachers to develop practical workshops and deliver biodiversity enhancements to school grounds.  The programme will benefit wildlife through the creation of wildflower areas, hedgehog-highways, bird-feeding stations, nest-boxes and insect ‘hotels’.  Pupils will then become citizen scientists, monitoring the wildlife around their schools.  This work builds on past work with schools led by Sammy Mason and Pen-Yuan Hsing.  We hope that project success will be the catalyst for a wider roll-out around the UK. 

Previously, Sammy has worked with primary schools across the North East of England helping them to set up camera traps to monitor wildlife in their school grounds. To read more about Sammys work click here.

Mobile MammalWeb at Rainton Meadows

Last month we installed a new Mobile MammalWeb interactive display in the visitor centre at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve, Houghton-le-Spring. MammalWeb was initially developed in partnership with Durham Wildlife Trust and its members, and so it is fitting that visitors can now engage with MammalWeb at Durham Wildlife Trust’s headquarters.  In addition to classifying images from camera traps on the nature reserve, users can access MammalWeb Britain as well as a range of other information. So why not enjoy a day out to Rainton  Meadows and spend a little time on MammalWeb too!

The mobile MammalWeb setup at Rainton Meadows

Pine Marten Recovery in Britain 

Over the past few years, pine martens have regularly been in the news, with coverage including new populations returning to their historic ranges; natural recolonisation as populations grow; and reintroductions and reinforcements. Marten recovery is a positive conservation story, offering hope to wildlife across the UK. Martens are, perhaps, unlikely allies to the red squirrel but, with pine marten return, comes hope for red squirrel population recovery! 

The Vincent Wildlife Trust are leaders in pine marten research and conservation within the UK. In July, they published their long-term plan for Pine Marten Recovery in Britain. 

The plan considers how best to conserve existing marten populations, to promote and aid natural recolonisation, and to identify where reintroductions maybe needed. The plan identifies several “priority optimal” areas for marten reintroductions and proposes a national approach to marten recovery and population restoration in order to guide conservation efforts across the UK. The plan offers hope that we will continue to see marten populations recovering across Britain! If you would like to read the full report, click here.


Identifying Species

With six species of deer living in the UK, it can often be challenging to identify which species you have captured on camera. That is why, this month, we are giving you tips on identifying Britain’s deer.

Roe deer are widespread across Britain, appearing regularly on camera traps, and are one of only two native deer species.

Fallow deer are not native to Britain and were introduced in the 11th century from the Mediterranean. Fallow deer are highly variable in appearance but have four main coat patterns

Red deer are our largest deer species and are our second native deer. Red deer are common in parts of the UK, especially Scotland. Red deer interbreed with sika deer, and it is likely that the animals seen in mainland Scotland are mainly hybrids.

Sika deer were introduced to Britain in the 1960’s and are originally from Japan. When in their summer coats, sika deer can often be mistaken for fallow deer and, in the winter, they may be confused with red deer.

Muntjac deer are the smallest of the deer found in the UK. Originally from China, muntjac were introduced to the south of England in the 20th century. They are now found right across southern England and the Midlands, with their population and range continuing to expand. 

Chinese water deer are non-native, having first established wild populations in the UK following escape from Whipsnade Zoo in 1929. Their population in the UK is mainly confined to Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, and Norfolk. Chinese water deer are globally endangered , and 10% of their total population is found in Britain.


Online talks and events

Do you fancy catching up with conservation and learning more about our wild neighbours? If so, take a look at these upcoming online events!

There are also a number of organisations who made past talks and webinars, on a variety of topics available online. Click on the organisations below to view their talks.


Mammal Fact of the Month

Did you know that 2022 will see bison return to the British countryside, after an absence of 6000 years! The Kent Wildlife Trust and the Wildwood Trust are releasing a group of bison into a fenced area of Blean Woods as part of the Wilder Blean project! To find out more about this pioneering project click here.


Camera trap quiz

The animal in last month's camera trap quiz was a beaver, well done to everybody who got it correct. Often confused with otters, beavers have a larger, more rounded body, and a long flat scaly tail.

Now time for this month’s camera trap quiz! We are venturing outside the world of mammals and asking you what rare British bird species is in the image bellow? All will be revealed in next month’s newsletter.

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more?! We can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

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MammalWeb Newsletter July 2021

Published on July 13th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter July 2021

Welcome to another issue of the MammalWeb monthly newsletter. We hope you are all safe and well! 21stJune saw the summer solstice, but the days are still long, and we hope you are enjoying the warmer weather. It’s a great time of year to get outdoors and explore new places brimming with wildlife, as there’s plenty to see! If you’re out and about at dusk, be sure to look up and keep an eye out for bats. You may even see them foraging above your garden!

Included in this month’s newsletter is June’s sequence stats and spotter league, an update on our latest projects, a focus on proposed changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act, species identification top tips, and of course, our monthly camera trap quiz.


June 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
844917395

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month!


June spotter league

Congratulations to our top ten spotters, its lovely to see some new and familiar names in the mix this month! Well done to all, your hard work is always appreciated. Find out who will be top of the month in July in our next newsletter.
PositionUser
1cam trap
2emma_hummingbird
3TerriM
4shellsmoore
5PetaSams
6MaxT
7gcsmith
81bachA_sanblas
9sammykwild
10diana crane


New projects

We are thrilled to introduce you to our two latest projects StemtoStem and Deerbolt Prison. Below is a synopsis of each, written by the project coordinators. You can find out more about these, or any other of our other projects, on our website.

StemtoStem:

STEMtoSTEM began its series of weekly Citizen Science workshops, on the 22nd of June with three Year 5 classes at St. Joseph’s Primary School in Hendon. This project came about after a meeting with Sister Anthony (a previous retired Headteacher); she showed us pictures of what Hendon used to look like many decades ago, helping us understand and visualise the scale of development in Barnet. The greenspace and pond area at St. Joseph’s Primary school is overgrown, underused and the pond water level has decreased significantly. This motivated our team to raise awareness of the amazing potential and impact greenspaces have on our communities and the environment.

We linked the indoor and outdoor classroom together by taking all three classes to the greenspace to install the trail cameras bought from NatureSpy and borrowed from MammalWeb. The following week, the Year 5 pupils classified the images collected from the trap cameras and learnt about animals using resources available on the MammalWeb website. We spotted a family of foxes, squirrels, dogs and even a fox with a meal in its mouth. The pupils learnt about habitats and the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity in our locality. The pupils were engaged and excited, and we had interesting discussions about knowledge giving us power as citizen scientists. Last week the pupils measured air pollution data with Plume Labs Flow 2 sensor powered by a solar panelled backpack, and this week we will be going on a litter collecting trip whilst learning about valuable materials and pollution.

Deerbolt Prison:

MammalWeb has partnered with HM Prison Deerbolt, a Young Offenders Institution, to support the creation of the Deerbolt Wildlife Community Engagement Hub in the visitor centre.  This partnership supports Deerbolt’s ambition to be Britain’s Greenest Prison and is one of a range of local activities. 

Deerbolt’s ‘Greenest Prison’ project aims to encourage a culture shift amongst staff and the prison population towards environmentally sustainable behaviours.  Staff and the young men in Deerbolt's care are working together as a ‘joint enterprise’ to have a positive impact on the environment. As part of the partnership with MammalWeb, the workshops within the prison have been manufacturing camera trap housings, and also designing and implementing new habitat management within the prison grounds. We hope that there will also be additional benefits of increasing the residents contact with nature and improving their local environment, particularly in terms of improving mental health and wellbeing.  Long term, we want the project to have a substantial positive impact on all individuals who work and reside within the environment of a very challenging Young Offender establishment.

The Deerbolt project is now live on MammalWeb, with video footage collected from camera traps in the habitat around the prison.  In the next few weeks, we will be launching an interactive MammalWeb touchscreen information source in the visitor centre, repurposing the centre into a dual function Visitor Centre and a newly created ‘Deerbolt Wildlife Community Engagement Hub’. Nesting boxes with cameras will also provide footage to a TV in the centre, as will cameras focussing on the pipistrelle bat colony in the centre roof.  Collectively, we look to provide an enriching experience to visitors to the prison. 

Watch this space for further updates on the launch of the Wildlife Community Engagement Hub as well as an updated interactive MammalWeb touchscreen at the Hancock Museum and a new installation at Durham Wildlife Trust’s Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve.


Proposed changes to the Wildlife and Countryside Act

A number of changes have been proposed to Schedule 5 and 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), impacting the legislation that protects many of the UK’s plant and animal species.

Every five years, the statutory nature conservation bodies for the United Kingdom (Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and NatureScot) review the act, and provide recommendations to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and to Ministers for the Environment in the Scottish Government and Welsh Government. The amendments suggested in the current review would change the eligibility criteria for the species that are protected under the act, meaning that only European Protected Species, or species at immediate risk of extinction as defined by the IUCN red list, would be protected. This would put at risk large numbers of species that do not currently show a decline, or species that have not been assessed by the IUCN, as they would no longer be safeguarded by law. The changes would instead allow building developments to take place with little or no consideration of the impacts on formerly protected species such as water voles or pine martens. Other taxa excluded from protection include slow worms, adders, smooth newts, palmate newts, grass snakes and more. 

Experts and NGOs from across the country have raised their concerns about the changes, which were proposed without due consultation, and are now asking for their voices to be heard to ensure that any decisions made are well informed and reflect what is best for the species concerned.

Vincent Wildlife Trust have released the following statement:

“We strongly disagree with the underlying message that a species is considered worthy of protection only when it is on the verge of extinction. While it is undeniable that the IUCN Red list has an important role to play in raising conservation awareness, under the IUCN criteria, species are not listed until they are in high peril. By this time, the chances of conservation success are reduced and will inevitably take more time, money and other resources than if steps are taken sooner to pre-empt decline. The IUCN categories have been described as ambiguous and fail to reflect the distance of an extant population from a risk averse minimum population size required for the long-term viability and evolutionary potential of a population. A further drawback is that the relatively short trend period covered since implementation of Red Lists means that trends for species in decline since the 1970s that have now levelled off may not show up in the data and therefore elude red list inclusion, despite being vulnerable to, or at risk of, extinction.”

Read the full report here


Identifying species

We continue with our top tips feature and this month we are focusing on marvellous mustelids! Below are some key identification features to help you distinguish the difference between a stoat and a weasel.

Stoats and weasels are very closely related, belonging to the same genus Mustela. This can make it tricky to tell them apart in camera trap images.

The easiest way to differentiate between the two is by looking at the tail. Stoats have a black paintbrush-like tip at the end of their tail, whereas weasels do not. A weasel tail is short, stubby, and entirely orange-brown.

But what if the tail isn’t visible? Fortunately, there are other subtle differences that can be used to tell these small mammals apart.

The Mammal Society have created a handy visual guide, which is pictured below.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next issue, where we will continue to focus on the identification of hard-to-classify species!


Camera trap quiz

The animal in last month's camera trap quiz was a beaver, well done to everybody who got it correct. Often confused with otters, beavers have a larger, more rounded body, and a long flat scaly tail.

See below for the latest camera trap quiz. Any idea what species is pictured? The answer will be revealed in next month's newsletter. 

If you enjoy our monthly camera trap challenges, why not follow us on social media for more?! We can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

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MammalWeb Newsletter June 2021

Published on June 21st 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter June 2021

Hello to all our users, both new and long-standing! We hope that you are well and have been enjoying the warm weather across the UK. Like us, our wildlife has been making the most the weather – in their case, using this key period to raise young and fatten up for the winter ahead. During this hot period, many species may be struggling to find water, so why not give them a hand by putting a water bowl out for a thirsty hedgehog? Badger and fox cubs are growing larger by the day and are providing some fantastic camera trap images of their mad antics!

In this month’s Newsletter, we will as always be giving you the latest sequence stats and revealing the top 10 spotters for last month. We will also be welcoming new members, thanking friends, discussing invasive species, guiding you through identifying the UK's small mammals and, of course, the Camera Trap Quiz is back once more!


May 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
1545515945

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, together with our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month!


May spotter league

Congratulations to the top 10 spotters for May. It is great to see so a mixture of new and familiar names making it to our top 10! Thank you to everyone who has classified footage for us, it all makes a difference. Keep up the great work!
PositionUser
1cam trap
2emma_hummingbird
3TerriM
4Hector Gonzalez
5gcsmith
6shellsmoore
7Jaume_Gardela
8Magma
9sophiejago
10C.Newlands


Facebook campaign

This month, we at MammalWeb started a Facebook campaign in connection with the Wildlife Trust’s #30DaysWild campaign. Now that we know that the MammalWeb platform is working well and scaling-up well, we would like more contributors to upload footage to the site, increasing our coverage across the UK! Our Facebook campaign asked members of local mammal groups with a Facebook presence to upload their footage.


We would like to say a huge thank you to the administrators of the Mammal Society Group, Cheshire Mammal Group, Staffordshire Mammal Group, Shropshire Mammal Group, Cumbria Mammal Group, Northumbria Mammal Group, Wiltshire Mammal Group and Cornwall Mammal Group, for allowing us to advertise to your membership! If you are an admin for any other regional mammal groups and would be happy for us to post in your group, please write to us at:  info@PROTECTED.

We would like to give a warm welcome all of our new users! Thank you for being a part of our community! We are thrilled to have you here and cannot wait to hear from you!


Identifying species

In the last few newsletters, we have been giving you tips to help you identify those hard to ID species! This month, we are tackling the small - but challenging - world of small mammals! In mainland UK we have 3 species of vole (bank, field and water), 3 species of shrew (pygmy, common and water), 4 species of mice (yellow-necked, wood, house & harvest), 2 species of rat (black & brown) and 2 species of dormouse (hazel and edible).

The first thing to decide when identifying small mammals is what type of animal are you looking at, mouse, shrew, vole, rat or dormouse? Here is how to tell:

Once you know what group you are looking at, you can then look at the key features to identify them to species level. 

Voles:

Mice:

Shrews:

Rats:

Dormice:

If you would like to put your small mammal identification skills to the test, why not classify images from the  Small Mammal Camera Trapping project.


Camera trap quiz

Last month's camera trap quiz was definitely hard to spot! Did you manage to spot and identify the animal in the picture? If you spotted it and said it was a hedgehog, brilliant job!

Time for another tricky camera trap quiz! What do you think is in the image below? Remember: this species can be found in the UK! Find out the answer in July’s newsletter.

 

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MammalWeb Newsletter May 2021

Published on May 17th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter May 2021

Hello all, and welcome to the May issue of the MammalWeb newsletter. We hope that you are all keeping safe and well as lockdown restrictions ease. Spring is in full swing and there is plenty of wildlife to discover! You may have spotted a hungry hedgehog in your garden, or recorded footage of fumbling badger cubs that are still getting used to their surroundings. Now that the vegetation has sprung up drastically, it is a great time of year to look for breaches in shrubbery, or trails/runs in long grasses, to see if you can find an opportunistic place to put a camera trap!

In this month’s newsletter we bring you April’s league table, a summary of the new projects that have been set up recently, a focus on mental health awareness week, species identification tips, news of our upcoming Facebook campaign, and the ever-popular camera trap quiz. It is definitely a jam-packed issue!


April 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
655514405

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month!


April spotter league

Well done to our April top ten spotters, there is a brilliant mix of familiar and new names this month! Congratulations to everybody, your hard work is much appreciated. Who will be top of the leaderboard next month? Find out in our next newsletter!
PositionUser
1cam trap
2TerriM
3rainmac
4Hector Gonzalez
5eljensen
6emma_hummingbird
7Luko
8PetaSams
9sammykwild
10diana crane

 


New projects

We are extremely excited to introduce you to our latest projects! They are all a fantastic addition to MammalWeb. Why not give spotting a go on these new projects to see what different species you can classify? Below is a synopsis of each project, written by each of the project coordinators. Find out more information about all of our projects here

Bunloit Rewilding (Tierney Lloyd):

Sitting on the shores of Loch Ness, The Bunloit Rewilding project aims to enable nature recovery and community prosperity through rewilding. After a year of consulting with experts across various fields - from ecologists to politicians - we are now heading into our first year of baseline surveying.

Over the next few months, we will be conducting a broad spectrum of carbon and biodiversity surveys. As a part of this, we will be monitoring wildlife across the estate in collaboration with NatureSpy, using 15 cameras across the terrain. The estate hosts a mosaic of habitats that range from blanket bog to remnants of Caledonian Pine wood and temperate rainforest. In between we have rolling pastures, scrubland, birch woodland and plantations, spanning the length of the land. This diverse range of habitats are home to a vast range of Scottish wildlife; over the summer you can expect to see Wild Boar, Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and so much more.

We believe that people are as important in rewilding as any other member of the natural world.  Working with MammalWeb allows us to engage in citizen science, inspiring and educating people about our wildlife and in turn, collecting crucial data to help shape our conservation and rewilding efforts moving forward.

To find out more about Bunloit, head to www.bunloit.com and follow us on social media @bunloitestate.

Squirrel Monitoring in Northern England (Roland Ascroft):

The displacement of the Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L.) by the Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis Gmelin) over most of England and Wales, and parts of Scotland since the introduction of the latter species in the late 19th Century is well documented. When sightings are mapped, the continued expansion of the range of the Grey Squirrel is stark – see figure. The range of the Red Squirrel in England south of the Humber is now reduced to a few refugia such as the Isle of Wight.

Cumbria and Northumberland now contain by far the largest refuge of Red Squirrels in England, but this remains so only because of the efforts of a large number of volunteers, sympathetic landowners,  and a few professionals to monitor the populations and to control Grey Squirrels. Northern Red Squirrels coordinate the efforts of and data from 15 local groups in Cumbria and 16 in Northumberland (http://www.northernredsquirrels.org.uk/ ). Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE, https://www.rsne.org.uk/ ) employ professional rangers to control Grey Squirrels in selected target areas, and also coordinate an annual survey each spring (2020 excluded) which helps to measure the success of control efforts in terms of maintaining the range of the Red Squirrel. Additional monitoring and compilation of sightings helps to fill in the gaps not covered by the annual survey.

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Raise awareness of the risk of extinction of the Red Squirrel in England
  2. Let  spotters see pictures of both species so they may be confident about identification
  3. Illustrate how monitoring is done and let people see some results
  4. Provide pictures of our native squirrel so that children who might otherwise be unaware can see them

The first ‘crop’ of pictures uploaded are from part of the 2021 RSNE spring survey in Harwood Forest in Northumberland. Thanks to active Grey Squirrel control by RSNE rangers and others, there were no Grey Squirrels this time round. Harwood Forest remains a small but valuable refuge of the Red Squirrel in northern England.

Watching Nature Recover (Ben Mullen):

Watching Nature Recover (WNR) was a project born out of an increased interest in nature, and a desire by Local Nature Partnerships (LNPs) to connect with people during lockdown.  The aim of the project is to increase wildlife awareness in mid Wales through the lens of a wildlife camera trap. Participants are loaned a camera trap for use in their garden or local area to see what wildlife lives there.

The project partners with Powys LNP, Brecon Beacons LNP, the Biodiversity Information Service (the local record centre), as well as other groups wanting to get involved such as the county recorders for mammals and birds in Powys and a local camera trap expert who has provided training and support.

Aside from bringing awareness to wildlife, it is hoped that more mammal and bird records will be submitted and that new recorders will be encouraged to make biological records. A private Facebook group has been created as a space to share images and videos between participants, and two volunteers have recently joined the partnership to increase the contact between participants and the project. It is hoped a more personal touch will glean more records and encourage the use of MammalWeb. We also promote the successes of the project through a newsletter and social media posts to expand the Watching Nature Recover community. 


Mental health awareness

Last week was mental health awareness week and the theme was connecting to nature. 

1 in 4 people experience mental health problems in their life, and it can impact people of any age, gender or race. It is a serious, and sadly often overlooked condition, which makes it more important than ever to look after ourselves and those around us. If you or a loved one need help or support, do speak out as there is lots of help available and you are not alone.

The benefits of nature to wellbeing are indisputable and is central to our psychological and emotional health. Research has shown that exposure to nature can reduce stress levels, improve our mood, and can also strengthen our social relationships. Classifying images on MammalWeb is a great way to connect with nature from your own home and is also a therapeutic, calming task!

One group of youngsters that agree are the team that were involved in our Group for Anxious Pupils (GAP) project. A small group of pupils in county Durham came together to research and record wildlife in the area using camera trapping. The project was an enjoyable experience for all involved, with pupil Lily Willis saying “From a mental health perspective, it was beneficial to get outdoors and into nature, as well as giving us a very peaceful, strangely therapeutic, job of sorting through all of the images during lockdown.”. You can read more about the project here

If you would like to give classifying images a go yourself, why not head over to our website where you can find an array of amazing projects to select from?!


Identifying species

When spotting for any project, some species can be trickier than others to classify, hence the option for you to report a degree of certainty. In the last issue, we gave you some top tips on how to identify wildcats – specifically, how to differentiate them from hybrid and domestic cats. This month we are focusing on squirrels! Below are some key identification features to help you distinguish between red and grey squirrels.

Heinz Traut of Red Squirrels Northern England (https://www.rsne.org.uk/) has kindly provided the below help sheet, which illustrates their differences!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next issue, where we will continue to focus on the identification of hard-to-classify species!


Upcoming Facebook campaign

As we look to expand the MammalWeb community, you may see us pop up on any regional mammal groups that you are part of on Facebook! Throughout June, we will be encouraging everybody to get as involved as you all are with our projects, working alongside the Wildlife Trust #30DaysWild campaign. Some areas of the UK are more under-represented than others on MammalWeb, so we will predominantly be targeting these areas. Please feel free to give our posts a ‘like’, ‘share’ or ‘comment’ as we always enjoy hearing what you have to say and would love to be able to spread the word as far as possible!


Camera trap quiz

Last month’s camera trap quiz was definitely a tricky one! Did you spot both animals in the picture? Well done to anyone that did, and correctly identified the red deer hind watching a badger. If viewing on a mobile device, it certainly helps to increase the brightness of the screen.

See below for the latest camera trap quiz. Can you find and correctly identify the animal in the photo? The answer will be revealed in next month’s newsletter!

 

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MammalWeb Newsletter April 2021

Published on April 17th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter April 2021

We hope that you and your families are all keeping well. As we begin easing out of lockdown and making plans, nature is busily preparing for the year ahead. After the recent cold-snap, warmer weather is finally here, prompting reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates to begin emerging. The countryside is alive once more, with an explosion of new plant growth and cacophony of birdsong filling the air. As we now arrange socially distanced visits to long-missed friends and relatives, we also welcome the return of chiffchaffs and ospreys, martins and swallows, among others. We are sure that you are all as excited to get back out into nature as we are!

We have a busy newsletter for you this month, with March’s league table, new site features, a piece on mammals in spring, a guide to navigating the site, guidance on using the certainty options and an introduction to the newest members of the team.


March 2021

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
1006921260

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month!


March spotter league

Congratulations to our March top ten spotters! Thank you everyone for all of your hard work. It's brilliant to see some new names alongside some familiar ones in our top ten. Who will top the leaderboard next month? Find out in our next newsletter!
PositionUser
1cam trap
2paul.cropper
3diana crane
4gcsmith
5Hector Gonzalez
6PetaSams
7sophiejago
8vivcoy
9shellsmoore
10TerriM


Nature’s Audio 

If you love birds, then why not head on over to Nature’s Audio. Nature’s Audio works in the same way as MammalWeb but, instead of uploading and identifying camera trap images, you can upload and identify birdsong. Once you have made an account on the site you can listen to recordings and classify what you hear or, if you have access to a smart phone/recording device, you can upload your recordings for others to identify. The site also offers training materials and quizzes to get you familiar with bird calls. So why not listen to some birdsong, key into the soundtrack that's ramping up around us, and help the Nature's Audio team to document what species are singing, where and when?


Website changes

We have just launched an exciting new feature on our website called ‘My Dashboard’. It can be found under the ‘contribute’ tab. This new feature allows you to see a summary of your identification/uploading statics, charts showing information on your activity, such as top classified species, images that you have liked, your images that others have liked, images that you have uploaded and classified, clips that you have classified, your images classified by others, your images with no classification and all images classified by you. We are very excited by this new feature as it allows you to see your hard work catalogued, as well as an overview of your data that the MammalWeb community is collecting and classifying!  

Many thanks to Helen, as always, for continued improvements to the useability and information content of the site! Also as always, let us know what you like, and what you would like to see in future. We can't promise to deliver it immediately, but we continue to hunt for resources to make this the site that you want it to be!


Helpful tips

If you are struggling to find a species in the list, don’t forget that a search bar is available. The image below highlights the search bar in red. Simply start typing any part of the common name of the species you are looking for and the list of species will be reduced to those containing your search string. The tabs highlighted in yellow group birds and mammals that you may see, but do not forget there are multiple pages. The green tab is a project specific tab that contains species you are most likely to see. If the species you are searching for is not on the current tab, try clicking on the other tabs to see if it is included on one of those. If you simply can’t find a species, email us to let us know. Don’t forget to clear the search term when you’ve moved on to a new classification.


Identifying species

You may be aware of the ‘certain’ and ‘uncertain’ options available when spotting. Some species, such as pheasants, blackbirds or grey squirrels, can usually be identified with a high degree of certainty, while species such as wildcats, stoats, weasels, song thrush and mistle thrush, often present a challenge. So, we thought we would point out the features of some difficult to identify species over the next view newsletters. This month we will focus on the tricky issue of differentiating wildcat from hybrid and domestic cats.

Scottish Wildcat Action lists 5 key feature to look for when identifying a wildcat, these are:

  1. A thick blunt ended rail with distinct rings
  2. A line that runs down the back to the base of the tail
  3. Four thick black lines on the back of the animal's neck
  4. Two thick stripes on the shoulder
  5. Markings on the animal’s side consisting of mainly stripe.

Wildcats are brown with black markings. The fur around the cat’s mouth is often paler but rarely pure white. Around the ears and nose fur may be a sandy colour

Hybrid wildcats and domestic casts in contrast will tend to have:

  1. A thinner, more pointed tail with thin lines
  2. The stipe on the animals back extends down the tail
  3. Markings are often broken up and spotty
  4. The fur on the feet is often white

The image below is a handy visual guide, provided by Scottish Wildcat Action, to help identify Wildcats.


Mammals in spring 

As we leave cold and dark days of winter, mammals across the UK are getting ready to make the most of the bounties of spring and summer. The spring and summer really can be a fantastic time to watch wildlife!

Last month we introduced a new pine marten project, with the aim of identifying individuals from their unique bib patterns. This month, martens should hopefully be giving birth to 1 – 5 kits. In mid to late May, the kits will start to explore beyond the denning site and should hopefully start to be caught on camera, so please keep spotting!

As the evenings draw out and are a little warmer, it can be a great time of year to sit quietly away from a badgers’ sett and wait for them to emerge. Cubs, born from January to March, may now begin to venture above ground. Being more impatient than adults, cubs will often emerge while it is still light, potentially giving some brilliant sightings. Please be considerate to badgers if you do decide to watch them: be as quiet as possible, keep a good distance away, watch from down-wind of the sett and ensure you have permission of land owners/managers to be there. Foxes often share setts with badgers and can be seen with their playful cubs around the same time.

Species such as dormice, bats and hedgehogs will now be emerging from hibernation in search of food and mates, and to give birth. While you are unlikely to see dormice, bats and hedgehogs can be relatively easily observed. Hedgehogs are a species in trouble and there are some actions you can take to help: providing hedgehog safe food and water (not bread or milk) provides a bit of extra resource that can help them to survive the long winter hibernation; cutting a ‘hedgehog hole’ in your fence allows hedgehogs to move around more freely, increasing gene flow and the availability of food; a hedgehog house gives hogs somewhere safe to sleep and nest; hedgehogs love to eat slugs and snails, so try to avoid slug pellets and, if you do use them, use hedgehog-safe pellets. 

If bats interest you, why not join a local wildlife group for a bat walk? They can not only give you more information on the UK’s bat species, but they may also have a bat detector, which allows you to hear the echolocation calls bats use to find their prey. 

Spring really is a fantastic time to get out and enjoy nature, so why not see what you can spot! You could even become one of our ‘trappers’, putting out a camera trap to capture our more elusive species. Please do upload any footage you capture. 


New to the team

Last month, you might have seen that we advertised a position for a new communications intern. We are pleased to announce that we found two people for the job! Here are introductions from Caitlin and Tom:

Hi, my name is Tom and I thrilled to be interning with MammalWeb! I am a zoology graduate, currently studying for a Master's degree by research, focusing on Indri lemurs. I have a love of all species, with a particular obsession with the mustelid family (pine martens, stoats, weasels, otters, badgers etc.). I have a passion for camera trapping and I am very lucky to have camera trapped across the country. Therefore, this is the perfect role for me! 

 

My name is Caitlin and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Salford. I study Wildlife and Practical Conservation, which has given me the opportunity to engage in many field trips and has provided me with the foundations required for a career in wildlife conservation. I have always had a passion for wildlife and particularly enjoy using camera traps to study animal behaviours. I am excited to be part of the MammalWeb team to develop my existing knowledge of UK and European species. During my time volunteering here, my role will involve working with Tom and the rest of the team to manage email and social media accounts, and to produce the monthly newsletter. I very much look forward to using these platforms as a way to communicate with you all, both directly and indirectly.


Camera trap quiz

Last month we challenged you with this camera trap image (below), did you know what it was? Hiding on the left side of the image, with a long face and long neck, is a red deer. Well done to all those who got it correct! 

Below is this month's camera trap quiz, do you know what has been captured here?

 

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MammalWeb Newsletter March 2021

Published on March 11th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter March 2021

We hope you are all keeping safe and well. We have been noticing the first signs of spring recently, with longer days and slightly warmer temperatures. With the easing of restrictions, we are looking forward to getting back out and setting more camera traps! Hopefully, you are all looking forward to getting out and spending more time in nature and with loved ones again soon, too. In this newsletter, we bring you the February spotter league table, some further website updates and information on online talks. In addition, we introduce you to a new pine marten classification project to get involved with. We would like to apologise for a slight oversight in last month's newsletter, as we stated we were advertising for a new board member but failed to include the advertisement. We have included the advert in this month's newsletter and encourage anyone who might be interested to get in touch.


February 2020

Sequences uploadedSequences classified
7,45712,604

These values include all photos from the general MammalWeb Britain project, and our other public projects. Thank you to everyone who has uploaded and classified photos this month!


February spotter league

Congratulations to our February top ten spotters and thank you for all the classifications you submitted. It's great to see a mix of familiar and new names making it into our top ten, but who will top the leaderboard in March? Find out in our next newsletter!
PositionUser
1ternyikb
2nmtoken
3shellsmoore
4cam trap
5PetaSams
6paul.cropper
7annedonnelly
8urtchie
9vivcoy
10Hinas


New website layout

Some of you may have already noticed we have made a few small changes to the layout of our website. This has allowed us to add extra pages to the website, and hopefully make the site easier to navigate. Here is a summary of the changes made:

Many thanks to Helen, as always, for continued improvements to the useability and information content of the site!


New pine marten project

We are incredibly excited to introduce a new project to MammalWeb, inviting participants to help monitor the pine marten population in the Forest of Dean. This project is being run in collaboration with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and their pine marten re-introduction programme. This is a pioneering re-introduction programme for pine marten conservation and the first of its kind in England. The re-introductions began in 2019 when the first individuals where translocated from Scotland to the Forest of Dean. The population is thriving, with the first kits born in spring 2020 and, hopefully, more on the way in the next few months.

To understand how well the population is settling in to its new home, we are using camera traps to monitor individuals. Camera sites are baited with a combination of eggs, peanuts and peanut butter to attract martens and keep them there long enough to get a good view of their bib. This is important as each pine marten has unique bib markings, making it possible to individually identify individuals. This can provide detailed information on the population, such as the number of different individuals, where particular individuals are spending time, whether they are interacting with other individuals and whether females have kits.

This project is slightly different to other MammalWeb projects in that there is the extra challenge of identifying not just the species in the footage, but also individual pine martens. This is a difficult challenge and it will not be possible for all pine marten footage. In some cases, the animal may be too far away, its bib may not be visible, or the footage may be blurred. However, even if you are not certain, giving your best guess will still be useful as it can help to narrow down the possible individuals. Along with the experts from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, we have put together our top tips for identifying pine martens, along with a guide showing each of their bib patterns, which can be found here.

When classifying on this project you can choose to review either video (Pine marten videos) or photo (Pine marten photos) footage by selecting the photo of video specific sub-projects, or a random mix by classifying the parent project (Forest of Dean Pine martens). On the spotting page you will see an extra species filter on the right named ‘Pine Martens (Forest of Dean)’. This filter contains a list of pine martens with information on each individual, diagrams of bib patterns and images already collected of that individual (see below for an example image of a pine marten with its bib pattern diagram). The list also contains the options ‘unidentifiable pine marten’ to be used when pine marten footage is not of sufficient quality to identify to individual level, and ‘new pine marten’ to be used when footage shows a clear view or an individual’s bib that doesn’t match any of the individuals already on the list. We hope to keep developing this project and adding footage from additional sites in the coming months. Consequently, if you do participate in the project, we would love to hear your feedback. Contact us via email at info@PROTECTED

If you are interested in finding out more about the re-introduction programme, you can visit the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust website.  Also, you can follow the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's social media streams to keep up with their ‘Marten March’ campaign and to learn more about these amazing animals, as well as some of their Mustelid cousins.


Online ecology talks

We hope you enjoyed last month's talk that Sammy gave for the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) on her work with the GAP project. This Friday, the 12th of March, one of our other MammalWeb PhD students, Sian, will be sharing some of the preliminary results from the Forest of Dean project. This talk will be available to watch from the 12th, but this and others will be available to watch at your leisure via the NHSN’s YouTube channel.

If you are interested in watching more ecology-themed talks, the British Ecological Society has recently begun a new series of their Ecology Live talks, which are freely available to watch via their YouTube channel. The Zoological Society of London has also created a series called Wild Lunch Wednesdays, with short talks freely available to watch online.


MammalWeb Board Member

MammalWeb Limited is seeking a new director to diversify, enhance and extend the range of skills across our board.

Who we are

MammalWeb Limited is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee established in 2018 to support and develop the MammalWeb "citizen science" platform, which – in turn – is intended to collate, validate and curate camera trap data that can inform us about the distribution and ecology of mammals.

Mammals are often elusive. Often coming out at night, and not in great numbers, it is hard to monitor their populations, where they are distributed, and how they behave. Knowing these things is important for a wide range of applications, including conservation and the sustainable development of our natural landscape.

MammalWeb's aims include:

Becoming a director of MammalWeb Limited

This is an exciting time in the development of MammalWeb. Although we are a fairly young organisation we have already been involved in lots of projects and partnerships. Originally working in the north east of England, projects now spread across the UK from the highlands of Scotland to the Cotswold canals, and include Scottish wildcats, red squirrels and pine martens. We are also working with partners across Europe to identify mammals from Croatia to Iberia. Other projects involve working directly with children and young people in schools, museums and a young offenders' institution.

The directors are members of the board, which meets virtually, once a month, for an hour; directors may also take on other activities outside of board meetings. Current directors include representatives from Durham University's departments of Anthropology, Bioscience and Computer Science, Durham Wildlife Trust and the National Wildlife Management Centre. Currently, we are primarily researchers and conservationists.

We seek applicants who are good strategic thinkers, can work collaboratively, and will engage with the broader aims of MammalWeb. We are particularly keen to hear from individuals with skills and experience in fundraising; branding; marketing; children and young people. Ideal candidates will add value to our board with their professional knowledge.

MammalWeb embraces diversity and we want to diversify our Board in terms of skills, gender, background and life experience. We welcome all applications and particularly individuals from BAME backgrounds and people with a disability as they are currently under-represented on our Board. We also welcome applications from individuals who reflect the wide range of socio-economic backgrounds in the UK.

Director roles are voluntary and without remuneration.

If you are interested in becoming a board member then please send a CV and brief covering email to admin@PROTECTED. We will begin reviewing expressions of interest from 24th March, until the position is filled.


Camera trap quiz

Did you recognise the animal in last month’s Camera Trap Quiz? This chunky animal could easily be mistaken for a boulder or a bush in the grey of this night time image, but is actually a wild boar! One of the key ID features here is wiggly little pig tail we can just about see. Well done to anyone who got it correct!

 See below for our next camera trap quiz challenge! Can you tell us what species has been captured in this photo?

 

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