Blog 2

Cannock Chase

Students studying game management and countryside and recreation management at Reaseheath College have spent quite a bit of time on Cannock Chase recently watching the fallow deer during their rut (breeding season). They have been able to practice their ‘stalking’ and have taken some excellent pictures.

 

A doe through the trees

A melanistic (meaning darkly coloured) fallow doe

Group of deer running through the heather

A group of deer including one rather large mature buck (furthest to the left) moving through the heather at speed

They have also looked at some of the indirect signs of deer presence incluging this tell tale sign, this stem (below) has been roughly bitten off. Deer do not have two opposing sets of incisors like humans instead their lower incisors bite against a gristly pad in their upper jaw leaving this rough bite rather than the cleanly bitten shoots left by rabbits and hares which have two opposing sets of incisors.

Roughly bitten stem

Roughly bitten stem

A group of adult does with younger ones

A group of adult does, with some younger ones (born earlier this year) in tow.

A collection of their recent photographs can be seen here; https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/101669561315313801309/albums/6069948302855915009

hedgehog

Hedgehog Streets in Nantwich

The hedgehog is a wild mammal that needs little introduction; there is nothing else even remotely like it in the country, although on the European mainland it has to be referred to as the western hedgehog to differentiate it from a relative in the same genus, the eastern hedgehog. Though it is a familiar neighbour to us all in the UK, it is becoming scarcer every day; it has in fact halved in numbers in the past 25 years. This decline rivals and even surpasses that of the endangered tiger.

However, we can make changes to our own habits that will encourage the hedgehog population. Hedgehog Street, a national campaign jointly organised by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, is always looking for voluntary Hedgehog Champions and with numerous hedgehogs around the college grounds it would be a positive move to sign up for the conservation of this species.

One purpose of this national project is to encourage neighbours to look at their gardens and ensure hedgehogs can come and go between them; this opens up a wider territory for the food (beetles, slugs and other creepy crawlies) that the hedgehog needs to eat each night. If you want further information on how to do this then please visit www.hedgehogstreet.org.

I’m also submitting any hedgehog records that people can share; any time you see them, whether it’s alive or the unfortunate victim of road kill, please let me know; I can be contacted via email at onthisrock@hotmail.co.uk. The records will go to rECOrd, the Cheshire environmental centre who collate species sightings for distribution maps, and from February to August next year to the national hedgehog survey operated by Hedgehog Street.

By Jack Riggall, Level 3 Conservation and Wildlife Management student