Mammals

The sighting of any mammal is always rewarding and memorable, there being simply less of them and they tend to be more active during evenings and so when people are less likely to see them.  At Watchtree Nature Reserve we are blessed with some wonderful mammals and many are relatively easy to see when you explore the nature reserve.

Brown Hare. This medium sized mammal, slightly larger than a rabbit, and able to run at 45mp/h  is unquestionably Watchtree’s star species. A common sight on any walk around the reserve though its in the evenings when this species really comes to attention. According to locals ‘Watchtree has always been the place for hares’ – flat, exposed with large open fields and plenty of varied grasses and crops to nibble on. Evening hare walks take place during the winter and its not unusual to see 15+ hares on a small walk.

Roe Deer. This is Watchtree largest mammal and is typically found in and around the woodland areas. During the summer when the grasses are longer they are sometimes found lying up in the grass. Despite their reputation for eating everything, including trees, there does not appear to be a major problem here so Roe Deer should be on your watch list when you wonder through the woodlands.

Stoat & Weasel. We thought there were very few around until 2014! then seemingly every day one would be sighted. These are beautiful yet at the same time ferocious and we have seen them chasing and hunting down Brown hare leverets among other mammals. One family of Stoats even moved intio our mini-beast mansion and had made very distinctive bed/nests at the top complete with larder (bones and skull remains) at the bottom. On close inspection I was met with three spitting Stoats!

Small mammals. There are 1000’s here, honest! By setting humane small mammal traps (Longworth traps) we are able to discover some really amazing small mammals. Field Vole, Bank Vole, Pygmy and Common Shrew, Wood Mouse and even Water Shrews have been discovered. Each species has a slightly different niche, Bank Voles tend to be found in the woodlands and hedgerows whereas Field Voles are almost exclusively in the open grasslands and rank grassy areas.

Hedgehog. These are quite common here at Watchtree and whilst cute – do take birds eggs!

Fox. Beautiful in the spring when cubs can often be sighted. We tend to have at least one breeding most years