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

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.
5diana crane
7Bob Philpott

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


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

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!
1cam trap
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


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

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.
1cam trap
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 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



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

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!
1cam trap
4Hector Gonzalez

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. 






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.



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

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!
1cam trap
4Hector Gonzalez
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 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 ( ). Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE, ) 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 ( 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!



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

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!
1cam trap
3diana crane
5Hector Gonzalez

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?



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

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!
4cam trap

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?



MammalWeb Newsletter February 2021

Published on February 12th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter February 2021

We hope you are all keeping well and enjoying this snowy weather! If you do have snow, it's a great chance to go out and look for animal tracks and potentially find some good spots to put up a camera trap. We have a packed newsletter this month, including information on website updates, ongoing projects, upcoming talks, and videos you have sent us. We are also looking to hire a communications intern, and seeking a new member for our board of directors so please do have a look at those adverts below and get in touch if you're interested!

January 2020

Sequences uploadedSequences classified

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!

January spotter league

Congratulations to new contributor rainmac for coming straight in at the top of our first leaderboard of 2021! Well done to everyone who made it into our top ten for January. A huge number of classifications was submitted last month so thank you to everyone for all your contributions!
3Angus Doyle

Website updates

The long awaited 'project admin' feature has now gone live on MammalWeb! As well as the overarching MammalWeb Britain project, you'll probably be aware that there are a number of other projects on MammalWeb that are led by different individuals, groups, and organisations. The new project admin feature allows anyone who is assigned to be an admin on a project to download reports identifying the data uploaded and corresponding classifications for that project. We hope that this feature will be useful for all current and future project admins to get easy access to their data and keep up to date with the progress of classifications being submitted. If you think you should be registered as an administrator for a project on MammalWeb and have not yet been given access to it, please get in touch.

In addition to the project reports, we now have a species search facility above the species filters on our Spotter interface. If you don't see a species you're looking for, you can start typing the name of that species in the search bar above the species filters (in the box indicated by the search icon – a magnifying glass). As you type, the selection of species shown will reduce to those that include the letters you have entered. You can quickly click on the other species filters to check whether the species appears on any other list. Hopefully, this will help resolve the differences between – for example – birders (who might search for "Common Pheasant" under the letter C) and the rest of us (who would expect to see Pheasant listed under the letter P) (see screenshot). Furthermore, if you know the broad taxonomic group the animal belongs to (e.g. deer) but can't remember the particular species, you could type "deer" into the search bar and it will give you a list of all species names that include "deer". This might then help you to remember the species of the animal pictured, or you could click on each species in turn to check the description and photo.

One outcome of implementing this search facility is that the species in any filter are ordered left to right and then top to bottom (unlike before, when they were ordered top to bottom and then left to right). We hope that those who are used to the previous position of species (including ourselves) will be able to adapt to this without too much irritation as it keeps the search speed fast!

MammalWeb communications intern

We’re looking for an intern to work with the MammalWeb team over the next six months to help with our communications efforts! The intern will help communicate with MammalWeb participants and the general public via email (including our monthly newsletter), our website, and our social media.

The ideal candidate will have:

The internship will be fully remote. We expect the time commitment for this role to be between 2-4 hours per week. The role is very flexible – the work can be done at any time to fit around your other commitments. Although there is a minimum commitment for this role, we are very happy to support anything extra you would like to do/create for your own personal development. This could be things such as writing extra blog posts, making videos or infographics, or getting involved with other public engagement projects.

You will be joining a small team working closely together on the MammalWeb project, and will be supervised by researchers active in the fields of ecology, conservation, citizen science and public engagement. Through this internship, we aim to provide a valuable experience working in conservation and science communication. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a salary for this internship; however, we will be happy to provide references at the end of the placement and support you in developing your CV if you wish.

If you are interested in applying for this role, please email info@PROTECTED with a short statement about why you wish to apply and your suitability for the role. Please email by Friday 5th March 2021. If you have any questions then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Forest of Dean project

As some of you may be aware, an extensive camera trap survey of the Forest of Dean was undertaken last winter. Both videos and photos from this survey were added to projects on MammalWeb and thanks to the amazing efforts of all our MammalWeb spotters we now have at least one classification for every video or photo sequence. However, in order to increase our confidence that the footage is classified accurately before conducting further analysis, we would love to get at least two classifications for each photo or video.

As always with MammalWeb, many hands make light work, so if anyone has just five minutes (or longer if you want!) to submit a few classifications to either the Forest of Dean Photo or Forest of Dean Video project over the next few weeks we would be very grateful! Some highlights to look out for while spotting on this project include the large amount of wild boar footage. While there is a thriving population in the Forest of Dean this is one of the few parts of the UK where you might find this species living wild once again. If you are very lucky, you may even spot an elusive pine marten, as the Forest of Dean is the site of a pioneering re-introduction program to help return this charismatic species to England. A wide range of other mammal and bird species also live in the forest, so please let us know if you spot anything you find particularly exciting, or highlight the best footage by ‘liking’ it while spotting.

P.S. If you are particularly interested in pine martens or the wildlife from the Forest of Dean area then be sure to look out for some exciting news in next month’s newsletter!

Upcoming talk with NHSN

The Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) have a fantastic range of talks available to view on their YouTube channel. These talks are on a variety of topics and there are two new talks aired every Friday evening! On Friday 26th February, a talk by MammalWeb PhD student Sammy will be available to watch. Sammy will be talking about the GAP project, on which she worked with a group of students who suffer from depression and anxiety. Sammy helped the students to set up camera traps in the Gosforth Park Nature Reserve (managed by NHSN) and photos captured have been available to classify on MammalWeb (see here) Watch Sammy's talk to find out what was captured, and learn more about the positive impact the project had on the students involved.

Camera trap videos

We love to see interesting footage you have captured on your camera traps, so we were excited to see two videos sent in by camera trapper Will Lewis. We've put them on our YouTube so you can view them too (click links below)! We found it interesting how, in the second video the otter notices one camera trap (that didn't trigger), but not the camera trap that did trigger and took the video. We wondered why this was, and wanted to know if you'd seen any similar behaviour? Do let us know by emailing us at info@PROTECTED.

Otter chasing heron

Otter investigating camera trap

BES Citizen Science Hub

The British Ecological Society has recently launched a Citizen Science Hub where you can find information and links to a range of different projects (including MammalWeb)! It's a great place to look for fun and educational activities to do either on your own or with your family. It's also a good resource if you are a teacher and are looking for activities to do with your class!

Camera trap quiz

Well done if you recognised this animal as a muntjac deer in last month's camera trap quiz! Bonus points if you also knew it was female - our clue for this is that she does not have antlers and the dark facial markings meet in a diamond shape on top of her head.

See below for this month's camera trap quiz. Is there an animal in the photo? If so, what is it? Find out in next month's newsletter!



MammalWeb Newsletter January 2021

Published on January 15th 2021

MammalWeb Newsletter January 2021

Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoyed the festive period, even if it was a bit different, and are all keeping safe and well. In this newsletter, we reveal our Christmas competition winner, and bring you the December league table and numbers, a roundup of all your efforts from 2020 and a new camera trap quiz.

December 2020

Sequences uploadedSequences classified

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!

December spotter league

Congratulations to Florian for coming top in our December leader board, and to everyone who made it into our top ten. But who managed to top the leader board for the whole of 2o2o? Find out below, as we look back over MammalWeb in the last year!
7vine cottage
8Bob Philpott

MammalWeb in 2020

It is so exciting to see the MammalWeb project grow year on year and 2020 was no exception. Over 500 new participants joined in spotting on MammalWeb leading to over 600 people classifying footage in 2020, more than in any other year and almost double the number of participants that classified in 2019. This is fantastic news for the project as it means that, together, we were able to classify more images than ever before, with over 200 000 classifications submitted in 2020.

It was not just a record year for classifications on MammalWeb, but a record year for contributions of footage, too. Over 285 000 sequences and videos were added to MammalWeb last year. This huge number is, in part, due to the growth of exciting new collaborations with other projects. For example, 193 381 sequences were added to the Scottish Wildcat Project. Wildcats are critically endangered in the UK and so monitoring them is vitally important; we are proud that MammalWeb participants are helping with these efforts. Another exciting new project from 2020 has been our expansion into mainland Europe, as part of our collaboration with MammalNet. Almost 45 000 sequences have been added to their various MammalWeb projects, including those in Germany, Hungary and Iberia. We look forward to data starting to come in from Ireland too. But it's not all about new projects: our original 'MammalWeb Britain' project remains incredibly important and had over 50 000 new sequences added to it by citizen scientists throughout 2020.

In total, 71 different users uploaded footage to MammalWeb in 2020, with 41 of these being new 'trappers'. Camera trap data were collected from 1045 different sites, with 1013 being new for 2020. This expanding coverage means improved monitoring of mammals across the UK and mainland Europe, and is key to achieving MammalWeb's goals.

2020 Summary table


607208 44371285 4201 045

2020 Spotter league

Congratulations and a massive thank you to our top ten spotters from 2020. You have all made a huge contribution to the MammalWeb project and we hope you continue to enjoy participating!
5Bob Philpott


Wildlife captured in 2020. Top to bottom: Roe deer, badger, red deer, black cap


Small mammal camera trapping paper

Camera traps have traditionally been used to monitor medium-to-large sized mammals; however, creative and innovative camera trap setups are now allowing them to be used for more diverse monitoring. This new paper describes how a standard camera trap can be adapted with only a few simple modifications to make it suitable for monitoring small mammals. Those of you who have submitted classifications on MammalWeb may have found that small mammal species can be hard to spot, and even harder to identify to species in most images. This is because camera traps placed for monitoring larger mammals, such as deer, foxes and badgers are often too high up and far away to capture good quality images of small mammals. The method described in this paper involves fixing a camera trap to view the inside of a box into which bait can be placed. This attracts the small mammals close enough to the camera for them to be detected and identified. The addition of the close-focus lens then allows a higher quality image than one taken with the standard lens.

Small mammals are incredibly important for a healthy ecosystem, and are a vital source of prey for many larger mammals and birds, but monitoring them can be a challenge. Current methods include: live trapping, which poses welfare risks, is time consuming, and requires highly trained personnel; footprint tunnels, which cause less disturbance but give only footprints from which to identify a species, a task which is often impossible; and hair tubes, where hair from a small mammal becomes attached to a sticky surface inside a tunnel and can then be analysed in a lab, which provides detailed information on an individual but can be costly. Camera trapping poses fewer welfare risks, as no animals are captured, is relatively simple to deploy, and can be integrated with citizen science. For some of you, this method is not new at all, as it is the one being used in the 'Small Mammal Camera Trapping' project already on MammalWeb, set up by Roland Ascroft. It is exciting to see the potential of this monitoring method being officially recognised in the scientific community. If you fancy testing your small mammal identification skills you can head over to the project to start spotting now. If you have your own camera trap and would like to have a go at small mammal camera trapping yourself, Nick Littlewood (the lead author on this paper) kindly provided us with guides on how to modify your camera trap. These can be found here in the 2018 news articles on the MammalWeb website.

Photos taken by Roland Ascroft with camera trap set up for small mammal recording. Left: Bank vole, Right: Wood mice.

Find Rudolph Christmas competition winner!

Congratulations to our competition winner Kimberly Holmes for finding one of our Rudolph the red-nosed roe deer pictures and winning the prize draw to earn their very own camera trap! Your prize will be making its way towards as soon as can be managed in current conditions. Further congratulations go to four runners-up who also managed to find Rudolph pictures: Daisy, Lukoczki, Roland, and one other participant. Thank you to everyone who submitted classifications over the festive period!

Camera trap quiz

Well done if you recognised the animal in last month's Camera Trap Quiz YouTube video as a red deer. We used body proportions (it's a well-built animal with long legs) and colour (it's a uniform colour, whereas a fallow deer - for example - would have a line where the fur turns lighter on the underside) for this ID.

Setting your camera trap to the right height to catch a range of species can be a challenge. While last month we could only see the bottom half of the animal, for this month's camera trap quiz we can just see the very top! But can you still identify the species? We'll bring you the answer in next month's newsletter!


MammalWeb Newsletter December 2020

Published on December 18th 2020

MammalWeb Newsletter December 2020

As we approach the end of what has been an unusual and unforgettable year, we'd like to thank all MammalWeb participants who have contributed to the project over these past 12 months! This year, we've welcomed new projects onto the MammalWeb platform, updated various features of our website and, of course, you've uploaded and classified tens of thousands of camera trap images and videos. We hope that you've enjoyed participating in the project, and that it's offered a way of engaging and connecting with UK wildlife - something that can be of particular benefit during these strange and often stressful times! In our final newsletter, of the year we share with you the November league table, some website updates, our monthly camera trap quiz, and a festive competition with the chance to win a free camera trap! We wish you all a merry Christmas and we'll see you in 2021!

November 2020

Number uploaded Number classified
5975 10915

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!

November spotter league

Congratulations to vine cottage for topping our November league table, having classified an impressive 1341 sequences last month! Well done, also, to all our other contributors who made it into the top ten for November. We're excited to see who tops the leaderboard for December!

Position User
1 vine cottage
2 Turnbull
3 Florian
4 Luko
5 SamNev
6 PetaSams
7 William Welsh
8 trumpetgirl
9 matthewboddy
10 Gven

Website updates

We've made some changes to the 'test yourself' function on MammalWeb to deal with cases of when there is more than one species present in the image. For example, if it's a mammal test but there is a bird species present in the image as well as a mammal you won't be penalised if you don't classify the bird, but you will get extra credit if you do. As always, remember to use the 'Challenge' button if you strongly disagree with the expert classification. In that way, we can continue to identify the most contentious and difficult cases.

A feature that is often requested for MammalWeb is a data-download feature. We're excited to say that this particular feature is next on our development list! This feature will be quite basic in the first instance but it will allow people who have their own projects on MammalWeb to download data from their projects. We hope that this will be an extra benefit for current and future individuals/groups/organisations who upload their footage and metadata to projects on MammalWeb.

A change of name for MammalWeb UK

Some of you might have noticed that we have changed the name of MammalWeb UK to MammalWeb Britain.  This reflects an exciting change, as we welcome MammalNet Ireland to the group of MammalNet projects.  MammalNet Ireland will be recruiting trappers and spotters from across the whole island of Ireland.  Trappers from Northern Ireland will, thus, be contributing data to that project, rather than to a UK-wide project.  It is fitting, therefore, that we refocus our longest-running project on England, Scotland and Wales.

Find Rudolph - A Christmas competition!

You're probably familiar with classifying photographs of roe deer on MammalWeb, but over the Christmas period look out for the festive version of this species - Rudolph the red-nosed roe deer! We've hidden 10 photos like the one below in the MammalWeb Britain project. If you find one whilst classifying, then take a screenshot of it and either email it to us at info@PROTECTED or message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Your name will then go into a prize draw to win a camera trap! We'll announce the winner on the 12th day of Christmas (5th January) on social media, as well as in our next newsletter. Good luck!

Camera trap quiz

Even though they are called 'grey' squirrels, these animals have orangey-brown coloured fur on their face, which can blend in very well with leaf litter. So, a big well done to anyone who spotted the little squirrel face poking into the edge of this photo!

For this month's camera trap quiz, we have a video for you! You can access it via the link below. This camera trap was originally targeting smaller species, so we have only a partial view of this larger animal. Can you tell what species this is splashing across the stream?


MammalWeb Newsletter November 2020

Published on November 13th 2020

MammalWeb Newsletter November 2020

We hope you are all keeping safe and well, and are coping with current restrictions. We hope, also, that MammalWeb can provide a welcome distraction and connection with nature, particularly for those of you who might not be able to get out as much as you would like right now. Thanks to the hard work of our spotters, many projects have received at least one classification for every sequence or video; however, please remember that these projects still need more work as multiple classifications are needed to ensure no mistakes are made, so do keep spotting them! In this newsletter, we bring you the latest spotter league, information on website updates and an article on wild wallabies in the UK!

October 2020

Number uploadedNumber classified

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

October spotter league

Congratulations to Turnbull for topping our October league table, and to all the other users who made it into the top 10! It's great to see so many new names among the big contributors! A massive thank you to everyone who made our top 10, and anyone else who has spotted over the last month for all your work.
3Ben Watkin
4vine cottage
9Mike King
10James Trevelyan

Website updates

Those of you who have uploaded footage recently may have noticed a couple of slight differences to the layout of the upload page, which we hope have made it a little clearer and more user-friendly. It is also now possible to upload videos in AVI format to MammalWeb, however the filenames of the videos do need to contain the date and time in the filename in one of the following formats:

a) myfile_YYYYMMDD_HHmmss.avi
b) myfileYYYY-MM-DD_HH-mm-ss.avi

Examples of how this might look:

The time and date given in the name should be the time and data at the start of that video. This is necessary as the methods we use to take meta data from mp4 or image files do not work for AVI files. We want to maximise, as far as possible, the amount of data that can be added to the MammalWeb database. Many camera traps record video in AVI format, so we hope this update will allow more people to submit footage. As re-naming large numbers of files can be impractical, we recommend that contributors continue to capture images or mp4 videos, if possible.  We are currently working on overcoming this limitation with new methods to extract the timestamp for the video's creation, so please stay tuned for further updates.

Updated terms and conditions

To reflect changes on the site resulting from the introduction of the self-test module, and in anticipation of the forthcoming opportunity to share account details between MammalWeb and iMammalia (watch the newsletter for updates on that, in due course), we have updated our terms of use and privacy policy. You can read the revised policy here.

Wild wallabies

Some of you may wonder why certain species are listed on MammalWeb: for example, raccoons, coatis and wallabies aren’t native to Europe at all! Despite this, these species have been recorded living wild in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Raccoon and ring-tailed coati have been recorded by the MammalWeb project previously, and while we have yet to see any wallabies, a recently published study shows that they may be more widespread in the UK than you think. Researchers collected 95 records from the public, or the media, of red-necked wallabies in the UK in the ten years between 2008 and 2018. Records came from many places across the UK, but were absent from north of Scotland, and were concentrated in the south of England. At around 90 cm in height, red-necked wallabies are smaller than kangaroos. They feed on grasses and other vegetation. They are native to southeast Australia but have found their way into the UK countryside as a result of escapes or illegal releases from private collections. There is also some evidence of breeding, with some records showing mothers with joeys in the pouch. It is unknown what impact these wallabies might have on our landscape, particularly if their numbers increase and wild populations become established. Monitoring invasive species is one of the reasons monitoring schemes such as MammalWeb are so important, as without accurate information, it is impossible to know when conservation action is needed. Location records can also help in the re-capture of escapee animals, allowing them to be safely returned to their homes!

If you are interested in reading more about wild wallabies in the UK there is a short article in The Conversation here, and the full scientific paper published here.

(C) Simon Willison (shared under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license)

Growth of the golden jackal in Europe

While it is unusual for a new mammal to appear in a country without having been introduced by humans, it is possible for some species to reach new countries by natural dispersal. As an island, this is less likely to occur in the UK – but, on mainland Europe, several carnivore species have been returning to countries where they were previously extinct, or even expanding their range into completely new areas. This appears to be the case for the golden jackal, a widespread species historically found across the middle east and southern Asia but only the south eastern part of Europe. Following a large decline in Europe, golden jackal populations started to recover after 1960, not only recolonising areas where they had been driven extinct, but also expanding north in to new areas. They have now been recorded in countries including Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, France and Germany, and are expected to continue expanding.

Golden jackals are a medium-sized carnivore, similar in appearance to a wolf but smaller and more slender, with long legs and a narrow, pointed muzzle. It is not known exactly why they have been expanding their range, but they rarely occur in the same areas as their larger cousin, the grey wolf. It is possible that past declines in wolf populations across much of Europe have allowed the jackals to move into vacant niches. If that is the case, ecologists will be greatly interested in comparing occurrence of jackals with that of now recovering wolf populations to see whether one has an impact on the other. Jackals seem to do well in agricultural landscapes but are unlikely to occur where there is deep snow fall for prolonged periods of time. Based on this, other suggested explanations for the jackal’s success include climate change and human caused changes to the landscape making habitats more suitable. For those interested, a more detailed discussion of jackal expansion can be found in this scientific paper. While some people celebrate the appearance of this carnivore, others may be less enthusiastic because of the threat to livestock. This is illustrated in this recent article expressing concern about golden jackals moving into Belgium. Little is known about this species in Europe and all new records are important for monitoring its expansion, so be sure to keep a look out for jackals when classifying from the MammalNet projects. If you have been classifying from the MammalNet Hungary project you may even have come across a golden jackal already!

Camera trap quiz

The animal in last month’s camera trap quiz photo was an American mink. Well done to everyone who recognised it! These animals are an invasive species that can be very damaging to our native water voles populations and so it is important to monitor their presence. They can often be confused with otters but are smaller with darker fur and a shorter, more slender tail.

Can you spot the animal in this photo for our next camera trap quiz challenge? We’ll let you know the answer in our next newsletter!