Mammals of Rhayader – by Sorcha Lewis
With only 0.5% of records sent to record centres being for mammals there is obviously a real need to get those records in. Birds, plants and butterflies are better recorded. This due to the fact they are colourful, easier to observe and not as elusive as some of our mammals. But we do see mammals and if a small effort was made of submitting these occasional sightings it really would add to the understanding of mammals with in the county.
As a mammal group we aim to get a provisional atlas produced so we can see where there seems to be absent records within the county and we can work to build up a current distribution picture of mammals right now. A snap shot in time. Within 5 years it is hoped to have an up to date mammal atlas. Excitingly everyone can add their record into this book, which of course will totally depend on the input from the good people of Radnor. So for all of those who see wildlife when they are out fishing, walking, bird watching and farming please take the time to forward your records because they are so desperately needed.
So what about the mammals in the Rhayader area, what do we know about them right now. The last 20 years have shown we have very few rats! (Obviously no one records the old rat), 1 house mouse record from Rock Terrace a cat kill (the grey black mouse not the wood mouse that often comes into our homes). We have a good number of locals recording the mice and other small mammals their pet cat has brought in as a gift, so records for wood mice and the similar yellow necked mouse (distinguished by its yellow collar) are coming in now – keep up the good work. Make something positive from your cat’s dinner.
We have some records for water shrew, a few in the Elan valley found in the remains of owl pellets which were dissected. One water shrew was found dead on the path in the park by the castle, obviously its awful taste made something spit out its kill. I still have the skin preserved where you can see the teeth marks.
We have such a rich variety in the Rhayader area and the only mammals not recorded are the harvest mouse, dormouse, fallow deer and red squirrel. Oh and no sea mammals although I did have someone ask if you get dolphins in the reservoirs. I hope he was joking, but I am honestly not so sure. We have good reliable records of otter, stoat, weasel, polecat and hedgehog. Highlights in records for 2009 in the Rhayader area have included many otter sightings along the River Wye. There have been two mink sighting, one near Gilfach and one just outside Rhayader towards Abbey Cwm Hir. There have been a good number of Brown Hare sightings in the area for this year and indeed for a number of years now. Deer have hit the Rhayader records this year with one muntjac in a Nant Glas garden, one roe deer in the Elan Valley and another Roe on the way to Llandrindod wells. I have heard evidence of large deer seen on occasion in the Claerwen Valley forestry and in Cwmdauddwr. Possible muntjacs have been seen in the forestry nearby. Moles are greatly under recorded and yet so easy to find their tell tale signs in our fields.
Bats are pretty under recorded in the area but these are trickier to identify unless you have one in the hand or a bat detector and can understand the bat calls. Do contact us if you would like to know what bats you have in the house/loft or if you have bat boxes you would like us to check and we can arrange a possible visit (bat boxes should be inspected by a licensed bat handler). This is only open at the moment to the Rhayader locality until the bat side of the mammal group is fully established.
So what is it that constitutes a record – WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? and WHO! It is hoped people can get involved at what ever level they want. At home just looking at what is in the garden (or not), a walk you do often or choose a grid square of your own and see if you can fill it full of sightings you come across over the year. I have already received 2 pictures in my e-mail box of deceased cat play mates – wood mice! And we are therefore happy to receive any photos you get. These are stored and can be used for future training purposes. I still have the photographs of chipmunks seen in Nant Glas these can be seen on the mammal group website. Some records have come from the youngest contributor aged just 10 years and I feel if our children can take time to share what they are finding so should we all. A record can be mammals seen in your garden, what your cat brings in, something seen dead on the road, remains in owl pellets, mole hills, the list is endless. For more information please visit the Radnorshire Mammal Group website where we have information on recording, projects, events and surveying opportunities.