2010 was a year of great wildlife for me, so much of it that I’ve hardly had time to reflect on what I’ve seen, let alone blog about it. Here’s a selection of the mammal highlights.
For a fortnight in June I was doing surveys for saproxylic (i.e. dead wood) beetles in the Highlands from Ullapool, down through the Isle of Skye, ending up in the Fort William area. I had amazingly good weather for most of it, and pretty good luck. I finally connected with Pine Marten which I’ve dipped on several painful occasions in the past. Glen Loy Lodge just outside Fort William is highly recommended for anyone wanting to see them well, actually ridiculously well! Watch my first ever youtube clip here.
I also had my most prolonged views of an Otter while in Scotland from this quay on Skye on a tranquil evening. For over quarter of an hour I watched it catching and eating shellfish while I was eating chips and the midges were eating me. I also saw one from the car as I was driving away from the Mallaig ferry.
Jo spent many evenings surveying woodlands in Buckinghamshire for Bechstein’s Bats, one of Britain’s rarest mammals, with amazingly successful results. I took my chance to see them when I accompanied her and a vanload of North Bucks Bat Group folks to help with some batbox monitoring in Herefordshire on 5th September. Footage here. One of the batboxes was being used by a couple of very lively Dormice that decided to bale out when the box was checked.
What will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience took place at The Mens Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve. Jo and I were beetling with Graeme Lyons when there was frantic rustling in the leaf-litter and it sounded like something quite big was charging at us. I looked up and was lost for words at first and then decide to hedge my bets and called “Mustelid!”. A Badger was chasing a Polecat towards us in broad daylight! Graeme has the story on his Lyon’s Den blog.
I think I love mammal-watching more than any other branch of natural history. And I love whales and dolphins more than any other mammals. So it was a bit upsetting that Jo gripped me off on Killer Whale in the Bay of Quendale during our Shetland trip in September. I console myself that they were distant views into the sun: it would be great to see them like this (in Mousa Sound).