A Week of Wildlife Activities at Yew View!

Last week, after a 3 week absence at Yew View, I spent the whole week there! This time, I was able to combine house-sitting (and looking after all the animals) with some other wildlife projects, some of which are difficult to achieve when I only do one day a week.

I had a selection of friends lined up to join me in the week, to help out on some projects and we kicked off on Bank Holiday Monday. We were blessed with lovely warm and calm weather and, a I had planned a moth trap and some small mammal surveying, I couldn’t believe my luck. Friends Rob and Dave joined me on site and we prepared for the night’s tasks.

To do the small mammal survey, Rob had brought along 40 mammal traps. Each of these was carefully primed with hay for bedding and enough food to last a mammal all night. We would put them out last thing before dark and collect them first thing in the morning, to ensure any trapped mammals would be in the trap for as little time as possible.

We headed out on site and chose a variety of habits in which to place the traps… #gallery-16305-18 { margin: auto; } #gallery-16305-18 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-16305-18 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-16305-18 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

We wanted to set some in the reeds around the wildlife pond. This is where we have recorded harvest mice and it would have been amazing to capture some. Rob had a brill little cane and plastic set up that allowed us to raise the traps up safely above the water in the reeds…

We also set up the moth trap out in the open at the bottom of the steps. We are quite late in the season, but thought it would be worth a try! #gallery-16305-20 { margin: auto; } #gallery-16305-20 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 50%; } #gallery-16305-20 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-16305-20 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

With such a lovely warm evening and the moth trap on, we headed out with the bat detector. We were able to watch some Soprano pipistrelles whirling around the trap, taking advantage of the moths. We picked up Common and Soprano pipistrelles, some Daubentons and we think some Leislers as well.

First thing in the morning, we headed to collect the traps. For each, we logged what species we had by tipping the trap contents into a plastic bag and, sometimes popping them in a tank for a little while so we could take a closer look. #gallery-16305-21 { margin: auto; } #gallery-16305-21 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-16305-21 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-16305-21 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */


As expected, our main captures were wood mice, with a few bank voles as well…. it is a privilege to be able to take a close up look at these species before setting them free again where they were captured.

In some cases, the wood mice had discovered the food and then collected materials to block the entrance, so nothing else could find and eat it. I have recorded this ‘stashing’ behaviour in my mammal boxes as well!


We had an incredible capture rate of over 50% which is an indication of the very healthy populations of wood mice and voles we have! We captured 18 wood mice and 2 bank voles, with some traps also being triggered but the occupant escaping.

Next was the moth trap! We had decided we would not count and record everything, due to time restrictions, but would concentrate on the more interesting species, that I would also try to get some photos of. I was using the little Olympus TG-5 that I had taken to Costa Rica as its macro facility is excellent. I really like the focus stacking option that, if the subject is still and you can get the camera steady, produces excellent results. It takes multiple images and then combines them, in-camera, to produce a composite image made up with multiple images with a shifting focus throughout the scene.

These images show a standard macro shot, followed by the focus stacking image.

Poplar Hawk Moth


Single macro image



Macro focus-stacking


Burnished Brass


Single macro image



Macro Focus-stacking


Burnished Brass Duo!


Single macro shot



Macro Focus-stacking



Snout



Snout from side



Square spot rustic



Poplar hawk moth



Dark barred twin spot carpet



Green carpet





Spectacle



Lime emerald



Common wainscot

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The list of species included: Lime Emerald. Lime speckled pug, Angle shades, Common wainscot, Yellow underwings, Setaceous hebrew character, Spectacle, Brimstone moth, Early thorn, Purple thorn, Common white wave, carpet moth, Flame shoulder, Green carpet, Gold spot, Burnished brass, Dark barred twin spot carpet, Straw dot, Clouded bordered brindle, Square spot rustic, snout, tawny speckled pug.

Thank you so much to Rob and his great moth trap and expertise in identification.. especially as it was his birthday… cake was in order… of course!


It was a great start to the week. The skies were blue and the swallows are starting to gather on the wires, with almost 50 at one point! We have our last youngsters just fledged and I had to rescue one that had got stuck in the corner of the garage… such a tiny little body and so light! I can’t believe this tiny form can make it all the way to Africa!!