MAMMAL, REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN REPORT
A good number of records were received thanks once again to the recorders who regularly ‘post’ their sightings on the forum on the society’s website and the reports from the recorders at Belmont and Cuerden Valley Park.
Unfortunately, sightings of Mink have increased, Water Voles are still declining, Hedgehogs continue to be in trouble and Fallow Deer have been killed. However, I question if House Mouse is really absent from the area as the lack of records would appear to indicate! On a more positive note, bat workers have reported an increase in bats in Duxbury Woods following the erection of bat boxes there and the continued presence of Otters along the River Lostock in Cuerden Valley Park was confirmed.
Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)
Of the twelve records received from within the Chorley Borough, sadly five relate to dead, injured or sick animals. The earliest record was one under leaf litter disturbed whilst gardening at Euxton on 14th March and the last was a sick one in Croston on 17th September. One discovered in the draperies behind the altar in St. Paul’s Church at Adlington on 26th June was successfully released outside!
A member from Euxton reported a decline in his garden from being present throughout the year to just occasional sightings. One of these, in April, was of a badly injured animal, probably caused by a farmer who used a flail to cut back hedges and brambles in an adjacent field and in September, another sick one found in the garden and taken to the vets was put down as untreatable.
At Belmont, the first was seen on 8th April and the last on 15th September. One was observed to kill and partially eat a Frog at Belmont on 20th June.
Common Shrew (Sorex araneus)
One was found dead on the path in Blainscough Woods, Coppull on 11th June and one ran across Belmont Road on 28th July. This species was also recorded on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Mole (Talpa europaea)
Molehills were again a common sight in suitable habitats throughout the year. Dead mole carcasses were displayed on a fence at Withnell Fold on 7th March. A member took a short video on 15th July of one being eaten by a young Mink in Yarrow Valley Park (in the field between Top Lodge and Primrose Hill at Birkacre) and put it on her web album.
Daubenton's Bat (Myotis daubentoni)
One was ‘hibernating’ in an old mine adit at Belmont on 13th February and one was seen at Belmont on 5th June.
Recorded by bat detector on the society’s evening walk at Birkacre on 11th August.
Three or four were over the lake at Cuerden Valley Park on 17th and 18th August.
Pipistrelle Bat Species (Pipistrellus spp.) includes Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and Soprano or Pygmy Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
Common Pipistrelles detected at 45 kHz were recorded at Birkacre on 11th August and also around The Barn in Cuerden Valley Park on 17th and 18th August. Both 45 kHz and 55 kHz Common Pipistrelles were confirmed at Cuerden Valley Park on the Bioblitz on 7th August.
The first individual seen was seen at Belmont on 24th April and the last on 31st October with maximum of 12+ on 7th September. One was discovered alive in a wood burning stove in a house in Belmont on 6th June and was released seemingly unharmed.
Small bats flying round members’ homes in Adlington, Chorley, Coppull, Eccleston and Euxton between 3rd April and 28th October were likely to be Pipistrelle species. One member thought he was ‘going batty’ when on 15th September he was wakened at 5.15am by a bat flying round his bedroom. He opened his window but didn’t see it leave and when it reappeared in the evening he was eventually able to catch it and release it at 1am!
Noctule Bat (Nyctalus noctula)
Recorded by bat detector at Birkacre on 11th August and Cuerden Valley Park on 17th August. Five were found ‘hibernating’ in the old shippon in Wheelton Plantation on 6th November along with four Common Pipistrelles.
Brown Long-eared Bat (Plecotus auritus)
Three were ‘hibernating’ in the old shippon in Wheelton Plantation on 13th February. Another was also ‘hibernating’ in an old mine adit at Belmont that day, with three there on 7th March.
One was recorded at the northern end of Cuerden Valley Park on 11th May and listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Whiskered/Brandt’s Bat (Myotis mystacinus / M. brandtii)
Recorded by bat detector on the society’s evening walk at Birkacre on 11th August.
One, identified by bat group workers as Whiskered Bat, was found ‘hibernating’ in an old mine adit at Belmont on 13th February.
Natterer’s Bat (Myotis nattereri)
One was seen ‘hibernating’ in the old shippon in Wheelton Plantation on 13th February and again on 7th March.
Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)
A total of forty sightings were reported from within the Chorley Borough and of these, over half were from the local stronghold, the Croston, Eccleston, Heskin area, where up to five were seen throughout the year. Likewise up to three were recorded at the other stronghold, Withnell Fold and up to four at Brindle. Other records included singles at Healey Nab on 28th March, Heapey on 17th May (reported as the first seen in this area for many years), Anglezarke on 15th June and Coppull on 29th October.
There were thirty six sightings in the Belmont area with a peak count of sixteen on 9th September. The maximum count from Roddlesworth was seven on 9th February.
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Populations at Belmont remained at a low ebb following the myxomatosis outbreak in 2007. From only 10+ seen at the beginning of the year, the population around Belmont grew to an estimated 85+ in July. No further outbreaks of myxomatosis were reported in 2010 and the population was estimated at 40+ by the year end.
Several were seen around the warrens at Hoghton Bottoms on 28th March and at Wheelton on 3rd April. Frequent sightings were made in the west of the area, with a maximum of eight in the parkland near Heskin Hall on 14th July. Another regular site was ‘The Rucks’ at Birkacre where up to four were seen on 27th April. One lucky member saw a road-kill being eaten by a buzzard along the A581 in Euxton on 30th January and another member saw one being carried by a Fox in Euxton on 24th December.
Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Continues to be very common and widespread throughout the area, including members’ gardens.
Gamekeepers at Belmont reported shooting/trapping 85 during the year.
The cull undertaken in the Roddlesworth Plantations in 2008 & 2009 was repeated in February 2010 to reduce numbers of this species in those parts of the plantations where widespread bark-stripping to trees and severe damage to nestbox schemes (plus predation of eggs/young) has been rife in previous years. Shooting in conjunction with drey poking resulted in 50 Grey Squirrels killed (compared with 18 in 2009 and 137 in 2008) in an area of 36 hectares. Extrapolation of this density, 1.64 squirrels/hectare, (compared with 0.5 squirrels/hectare in 2009 and 4.7 in 2008) would give a total estimated population of 350 (compared with 107 in 2009 and 1000+ in 2008) throughout the whole of the Roddlesworth Plantations.
Bank Vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)
One at Birkacre on 4th September was the only record apart from listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Field Vole (Microtus agrestis)
This species was recorded on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Water Vole (Arvicola amphibus)
Cuerden Valley Park was the only site where this species was recorded this year. One was noted at the Kem Mill end on 21st February and one in the Park on 24th February was chased by a Stoat but appeared to escape when it dived into the River Lostock. However, there were no signs during the survey for this species on 2nd April and it wasn’t listed as recorded during the Bioblitz on 7th August.
Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Just three records received from within the Chorley Borough; one was found dead by Jepson’s farm at Anglezarke on 14th June, seen near The Barn at Cuerden Valley Park on the Bioblitz on 7th August, and one was by Heapey Lodges on 20th November.
The Belmont Report stated that 112 individuals were trapped by gamekeepers at Belmont during 2010. Whilst this figure would seem to represent a noticeable reduction in numbers, it fails to account for an additional substantial (but unknown) number that were poisoned in the area.
Long-tailed Field Mouse / Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)
Up to three nested in a nestbox some five metres up an ivy covered tree in a Belmont garden. They were seen by/in the nestbox on six dates between 31st January and 16th May.
One had to be rescued from an unsatisfactorily designed metal bird feeder that unfortunately damaged the animal’s leg in a garden at Adlington on 24th March. One was seen at Birkacre on 4th August but there were no other records apart from listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Stoat (Mustela erminea)
The thirteen reported sightings from within the Chorley Borough were of singles widespread and throughout the year, the first being one at Croston Finney on 17th January seen carrying prey and the last on 31st December in a garden at Whittle.
There were also fifteen sightings during the year from the Belmont area. Two in full ermine and one in part ermine were present around Belmont in January and February.
Weasel (Mustela nivalis)
There were seven sightings around Belmont during the year plus five other sightings, all of singles, these being:- Ice House Wood, Cuerden on 25th January, Hoghton Bottoms on 28th March, Brindle on 24th April, by The Goit near White Coppice on 1st November and Great Knowley on 29th December, which was the first recorded in that member’s garden.
American Mink (Mustela vison)
Six were trapped at Belmont between 7th February and 23rd October.
Seven other reported sightings, all of singles, were the most ever of a species that now seems to be widespread in the area and is causing havoc for the native wildlife. There were two sightings in Cuerden Valley Park - Ice House Wood on 18th February and Kem Mill area on 8th December; two in the Yarrow Valley Park at Birkacre – a young one attacked the reorder’s boots when she came too close whilst it was eating a mole on 15th July (ref Mole) and one was observed coming down the fish ladder on 1st August. The other sightings were Riley Green on 13th April; Lower Rivington Reservoir in July (photo of this appeared in Bolton Evening News on 21st July!); and one dead on the road in Grape Lane at Croston on 19th September.
Otter (Lutra lutra)
Continued presence of this species along the River Lostock in Cuerden Valley Park was confirmed when a fresh spraint was discovered by the Highways Agency ecologist who carried out a survey on 2nd February and also on the Bioblitz on 7th August. There was also a reported sighting of one by the weir pool on the River Yarrow by Croston Corn Mill at 7.15pm on 6th August.
Badger (Meles meles)
The only report was of singles dead by the A675 at Belmont in February and July.
Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Widespread in the area throughout the year, including members’ gardens at Great Knowley, near Astley Park and Whittle-le-Woods, the latter being noteworthy as this was the first time the observer had seen this species in Whittle. Three were seen suffering with mange in a garden by Astley Park at the beginning of the year but those seen later in that locality appeared to be free of the disease.
Due to low water levels, foxes were noted to be raiding the nationally important gullery at Belmont Reservoir on a nightly basis in late April. The heavy predation that ensued nearly resulted in the abandonment of the colony due to the mass killing of incubating birds and the disturbance factor. Urgent action to protect the colony resulted in three foxes being shot at the site on 3rd May, including two as they actually crossed the drawdown over to the island at dusk. Additionally, an extensive electric fence was erected. These actions proved ultimately successful as the gull colony re-settled and enjoyed a productive season.
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)
A secondhand report was received of one seen in Wheelton Plantation on 7th November. This is the first reported sighting of this species in the recording area since 2001.
Fallow Deer (Dama dama)
Six were seen near Wymott Prison on 8th February where the herd first reported in 2008 had increased to at least twenty seven including three stags, according to local people. However, after it was reported on TV and in local newspapers later that month that a man from the Leyland area had been arrested after his ‘fighting dog’ had ripped apart one of the deer in the area, no further records of this species in the Ulnes Walton area were received.
However, two males and a female were seen in Euxton on 19th June, followed by two in the same vicinity on 25th September and up to four (one dark and three almost white) were seen on four occasions in the Eccleston area from 26th October to 27th December.
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
With over fifty reported sightings, this was the most frequently recorded mammal after Grey Squirrel. It is commonly seen in the east of the area, including the gardens of members living at Great Knowley, the maximum being a group of six on Healey Nab on 10th January. Three was the maximum seen together in Cuerden Valley Park, where the species was recorded throughout the year and four including a young one, at Eccleston on 22nd April, was a good number.
Also seen commonly in the Belmont area throughout the year with maximum groups of eight on 11th April and nine on 30th October.
Adder (Vipera berus)
The pattern in recent years of this species being reported by members of the public at Wards Reservoir, Belmont, continued in 2010 with at least one unconfirmed sighting in late summer.
Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara)
The sighting of one basking on the boardwalk near Ward’s Reservoir on 11th July was the only record received.
Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris)
One was seen in Dean Black Brook at White Coppice on 21st March, whilst three were the first to arrive at a garden pond in Euxton on 27th March. Listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August and two were seen in the Walled Garden there on 1st September. The only other record was of one seen in a garden at Great Knowley on 1st October.
Palmate Newt (Triturus helveticus)
Three in a garden pond at Belmont on 12th April, with fifteen there on 24th June, were the only records received.
Toad (Bufo bufo)
The first one seen was at Belmont on the early date of 22nd January. At night on 18th March, 20+ were crossing the road at Wards Reservoir and 50+ at Belmont. There were twenty five, some in pairs, on the road at Well Lane, Brinscall at 10 pm on 25th March but there were also ten squashed at the road junction at the bottom of the lane. Seventy two were visible in a pond at Belmont on 11th April.
1000+ ‘toadlets’ were at Belmont on 14th July and ‘lots’ were along the track between White Coppice and Anglezarke Reservoir on 25th July. Listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Common Frog (Rana temporaria)
After the very cold weather in January, more than fifty dead ones had to be removed from a pond in Euxton where the ice had been over two to three inches thick but there were still plenty around the pond at spawning time! The first arrived to breed at another garden pond in Euxton on 25th February but it wasn’t until 12th March that the first were seen in a garden pond at Belmont. By mid March there was lots of activity at water bodies throughout the area with ‘hundreds’ in the Yarrow Valley Park at Birkacre, especially in the ditch by the ‘stag’ sculpture where the first spawn was noted on 16th March. The maximum seen in a Belmont garden pond was 137 in late March. Young ones seen near Wards Reservoir, Belmont, on 11th July was the last sighting apart from being listed as a species found on the Bioblitz in Cuerden Valley Park on 7th August.
Thanks to the following members and forum users who submitted records this year:
David Allen, David Banks, Dave Barker, David Beattie, David Beevers, John Catterall, Peter Catterall, John Cobham, Mark Collins, Brian Derbyshire, Diana Downing, Tony Dunn, Dave Eyes, John Edwards, Derek Holding, Chris & Tony Johnson, Paul King, Peter Krischkiw, Phil Kirk, Eddie Langrish, Gary Lilley, Steve Martin, David North, Leonard Poxon, Steve Poxon, Chris Rae, Garry Rhodes, Joyce Riley, Pat Rimmer, Peter Ross, Andy Ryding, Neil Southworth, Tony & Connie Stones, Carol Thistlethwaite, Bryan Thomas, Mervyn Thornhill, Richard Todd, Nora West, Paul West, Paul Whittaker, Carol Winder and Keith Woan.
Apologies to anyone I may have missed.
Thanks also for the list of species recorded on the Bioblitz collated by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and forwarded for the society’s records.