Pine Marten Easter Competition


Forest of Dean Pine Marten Easter Competition

Our Forest of Dean Pine Marten project is nearly complete but we need some extra help to get us to the finish line. In order to thank everyone who has participated in the project so far, and get those final classifications in, we are running a special Easter competition. For every classification submitted to the Forest of Dean Pine Marten Project from April 15th to the 1st of May you will receive a ticket to be entered into a prize draw. The lucky winner will receive a new camera trap and a runner up will win a copy of the excellent book ‘Pine Martens’ by Johnny Birks.

To be in with a chance to win you need to have an account registered on MammalWeb, then go to the ‘Forest of Dean Pine martens’ project, either via our ‘Projects’ page or select it from the drop-down menu on your Spotter page and start classifying. You can choose to classify photos, videos or a mix of both from this project. If you have not classified from this project before, you will notice it is a little different to other projects on MammalWeb as, not only are we asking you to identify the species you can see, but also whether you can identify different individual pine martens. This can be tricky, but is possible as each pine marten has unique markings on its ‘bib’ (the area of creamy coloured fur on a marten’s chest). Look carefully and you will see the edge of the bibs can be very uneven, and some martens have patches of dark fur within their bib. When spotting for this project you will see a list of different ID codes (e.g. FD03) for different animals known to be in the study area.



Clicking on one of these IDs will bring up more information and other images of that animal to help you with your classification.



Trying to ID a pine marten to individual level takes concentration and can be time consuming, therefore for each classification you submit that contains an individual ID, you will receive a bonus ticket for the prize draw. For more information and tips on pine marten classification visit the project page or see our pdf guide

If you believe you have found a pine marten that is not one the ID options available please classify it as a ‘New pine marten’. If you believe the footage is not possible to ID to individual, e.g. you can’t see the bib markings, please classify it as ‘Unidentifiable pine marten’ but if you are able to tell if it is male or female please still add that information. If you have narrowed it down to a couple of individuals but are unsure you can always select the individual you think is most likely but add others you think it might be in the notes box.

We will announce the winner on our social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and in our May newsletter, if you have any questions, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Best of luck - and get spotting!



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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or message us on FacebookTwitter 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!


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.

Overdue Spotters' League Update


It is a shamefully long time since we last posted news on this page. In our defence, (a) if you want more regular news, the best way to get that is to subscribe to our monthly newsletters; and (b) this global pandemic is playing with everyone's lives - and the MammalWeb team are no exceptions.

Rather than post separate updates for the Spotters' League from recent months, we thought it would be interesting to present a single table, showing the league rankings over the past 4 half-month periods (see below). Congratulations to everyone who made it in to the top-20 during one of those periods!

The table emphasises the high turnover in the League. For example, it shows that, of those who have made it in to the top-20 in one or more of the 4 periods, about two-thirds have appeared on only one occasion. It also shows that we have some very consistent contributors. Particular congratulations, then, to PetaSams, Florian, AKStenhouse, sammykwild, vivcoy and Gven, all of whom have made it on to each of the 4 lists shown! And commiserations to PetaSams who, despite being the top contributor over the entire 2-month period, has consistently been denied the top spot!

As always, thanks to all contributors - we hope you are able to keep up the good work!


Ranking Late June Spotters Early July Spotters Late July Spotters Early August Spotters
1 Florian jojoswift vkent jack.white
2 PetaSams PetaSams Deacon PetaSams
3 Sprocket46 Florian jojoswift milfo
4 Footballmia Grannymeg PetaSams Florian
5 Wild Outlander Sprocket46 milfo jo.davenport
6 Gven sammykwild Florian vine cottage
7 Joanna Gornia Deacon stuarthalewood stuarthalewood
8 poofinder trumpetgirl Hannah Coburn jojoswift
9 sammykwild Magma nmtoken JordanBrandrick1
10 Whitwam vivcoy trumpetgirl nmtoken
11 trumpetgirl AKStenhouse AKStenhouse Ehare
12 emmust Bob Philpott Edward_Hart AKStenhouse
13 Rattus Wild Outlander Rattus vivcoy
14 Dick Green bethsmith krholmes jd12006
15 vivcoy Rattus Sprocket46 Bob Philpott
16 AKStenhouse stuarthalewood sammykwild Gven
17 Luko WinnieC Bob Philpott Deacon
18 diana crane EllaStewart vivcoy pekka
19 JPSpot brinmar2000 DurhamMonitor Louise Bull
20 marcos Gven Gven sammykwild

Top spotters, early June 2020


Here's the top 20 for the first half of June. Lots of turnover again, with poofinder claiming the top spot for the first time! Seven further spotters were within a handful of classifications of making it on to the table, so even a couple more classifications a day could be the difference between fame and obscurity ...

As always, thanks to all contributors!

Ranking Spotter
1 poofinder
2 Florian
3 sammykwild
4 marcos
5 Wild Outlander
6 nmtoken
7 PetaSams
8 Deacon
9 SouthGlosGirl
10 JPSpot
11 pekka
12 magdacygan
13 Rattus
14 AKStenhouse
15 redsquirrel1
16 Dee
17 Sprocket46
18 kathrynhp148
19 Gven
20 vivcoy

Identification of sex in image sequences on MammalWeb

16-06-2020 by Roland Ascroft

Many bird and mammal species may be classified as sexually dimorphic (i.e., males and females differ visibly in their appearance) like pheasants or deer, or monomorphic (i.e., the two sexes look alike) like dunnocks or hares. Obviously, terrestrial mammals in Europe are not truly monomorphic because of their external genitalia, but these are only sometimes visible on trail camera images. Secondary sexual characteristics such as antlers in deer or tusks in wild boar make it much easier to separate the sexes for much of the year, but many mammals are sexually dimorphic by size, and this also occurs in birds (particularly some birds of prey). So, for mammals and birds in the UK (merely because this is where we have sufficient data), how often do spotters separate the sexes?

 Percentage of identifications where the spotter gave the sex (for species with more than 100 classifications)

Not surprisingly, deer rank top in terms of sex-separation in mammals, and the top 5 bird species are also ones which are obviously dimorphic, in this case in their plumage. One might expect Pied Wagtail to be included there, but it comes in at number 16, below several sexually monomorphic species. For most species, most of the time, spotters cannot or do not attempt to identify the sex of a bird or mammal.

One of our most dimorphic mammals in terms of size is the stoat with males being much larger than females, and yet there were zero attempts to give its sex. This may be because of the difficulty of estimating size on a picture when only one individual is present. In case you think size does not matter when it comes to sex, most of these species breed seasonally, and the size of their testes changes with season, driven by a hormonal cycle. This has been measured in roe deer, for example (Short R.V. & Mann T. 1966. The sexual cycle of a seasonally breeding mammal, The Roebuck (Capreolus capreolus) J. Reprod. Fert. 12,337-351).

Top spotters, late May 2020


Here's the top 20 for the second half of May. Lots of turnover, with 2nd and 3rd places going to Spotters not previously in the top-10! But who will come out top for the whole month? Subscribe to the newsletter to find out ...

As always, thanks to all contributors!

Ranking Spotter
1 Echo.Lawrence
2 Florian
3 nmtoken
4 Luko
5 redsquirrel1
6 Bob Philpott
7 Sprocket46
8 sdoug21
9 SouthGlosGirl
10 ShannonPasty
11 PetaSams
12 Wild Outlander
13 Wendy
14 marcos
15 sammykwild
16 dmasonwilliams
17 Magma
18 Deacon
19 annanicholls
20 EvieGarritt

Top spotters, early May 2020


Here's the top 20 for the first 15 days of May. Many familiar names, with ShannonPasty and Luko retaining the top 2 spots but a few new ones too. An impressive jump from SouthGlosGirl, up 11 places from late April to reach number 3! Also impressive from jjameson, as a new entrant to the top-20, coming in at number 4!

As always, thanks to all contributors!

Ranking Spotter
1 ShannonPasty
2 Luko
3 SouthGlosGirl
4 jjameson
5 sammykwild
6 redsquirrel1
7 Bob Philpott
8 kathrynhp148
9 marcos
10 meggo22
11 nmtoken
12 Con_Car
13 Deacon
14 dmasonwilliams
15 PetaSams
16 Florian
17 Jessica Money
18 IzzyH
19 Wild Outlander
20 Green Fox

GAP camera trapping project


Over the past year we have been working with staff and students at GAP in County Durham on an outreach project funded by the Royal Society Partnership Grant. In March this year students deployed camera traps around Gosforth Park, a nature reserve managed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria. The camera traps captured a whole range of wildlife, and these images have now been uploaded to the GAP camera trapping project on MammalWeb. The project is open to everyone to view and help classify the images, so feel free to take a look!

Lily Willis, a student at GAP, has written the article below which gives more information about the project, as well as her experiences of setting up the camera traps and analysing the images. We hope to bring you more updates in the future as the project progresses!

GAP (Group for Anxious Pupils) is a small group of Year 10 and 11 pupils, based in County Durham, who have come together in an educational setting because of experiences with anxiety and depression. We cannot attend a mainstream school and therefore receive our schooling at GAP with the support of mental health professionals.

We were delighted that the Royal Society awarded us a grant to fund a research project on wild mammals in the UK. Durham University are also working with us and assisting us with the project. Furthermore, MAC Security and Fire are providing expertise to help us develop skills in coding and to support us in building our own camera traps.

During the planning stages of our investigation, we carried out an initial lesson and discussion aided by our groups STEM partner, Sammy Mason from Durham University. Sammy visited us on numerous occasions between March and July 2019, however, due to Durham County Council relocating GAP this lesson didn’t take place until October 1st, 2019. Despite this, we were already familiar with Sammy as we had met her informally numerous times. This was very helpful as it gave us the opportunity to become acquainted and comfortable with Sammy, as she is approachable and friendly. During this brainstorming lesson, Sammy launched the project formally and between staff and students, we discussed our thoughts and ideas on how the project would run and be successful. The main outcomes from this lesson were that we would investigate:

  • What species do we share our habitat with?
  • Does temperature affect the species found in an area?
  • Do we find different species in urban environments, rivers/lakes, woods/forest?
  • Do predators and prey live close to each other?
  • Does time of day affect what animals you will see (will we see any Nocturnal animals during the day?)
  • Do you see more foxes early in the morning than during the day?
  • Do scavengers come out at different times of the day?
  • Does light pollution affect the number of mammals seen?
  • Do you find more rodents where there are humans?
  • Are there more deer near farmland than near public parks?

On the 3rd of March 2020, our class took a trip to Gosforth Nature Reserve, again accompanied by our STEM partner, Sammy, who was to help us set up the cameras, as well as pitching suitable locations to set up the cameras. When we arrived at the park, we were greeted by park volunteers, who showed our group around the reserve. They also shared some helpful insight into what locations may be best to capture images of the animals in the area and gather suitable data to answer the questions we had previously brain-stormed in our lesson with Sammy. 

I set up my camera viewing a deer trail, which resulted in capturing quite a few roe deer passing by through the woods. I thought that this would be a successful location as we had identified deer prints in the vicinity and in certain parts of the park, the forest debris had been scraped away by deer to make a clearing to sleep on.

As well as this, we placed another camera looking onto a decaying log, which the park staff advised us could be a good place to catch some badgers peeling away the bark and eating insects and larvae. There were some scratches on the bark already, giving a good indication that they might be back.  

The experience was fascinating and enjoyable; my favourite part being when we found a skull and I was able to identify that it had belonged to a fox. It was very interesting because it’s not a common occurrence and was proof foxes were living in this area. Another amazing experience was being able to see some roe deer ourselves at the park from afar, as they grazed in a field. After visiting the site, the group were feeling excited and anticipating what we would discover from the camera trap footage.

However, schools closed across the UK on Friday 20th of March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was only four days before we had planned to retrieve our cameras from the site, and we were unable to make our return trip to Gosforth. Nevertheless, Kathryn - one of our teachers - returned to the Nature reserve to collect the cameras, and uploaded the content to the MammalWeb site, enabling us to log in and classify the animals in the photographs as part of our remote learning. I was thrilled to discover that our camera placements were a success! So far, we have been able to classify around 1000 sequences from our camera traps, making us the 80th highest contributor in the country to MammalWeb, as of the time of writing.

A range of animals that we’ve classified include, roe deer, badgers, red foxes, rabbits and grey squirrels. We were even lucky enough to capture a clear photo of a sparrowhawk, perched on a log.