Category: Mammals

Heather from Calderglen on Ealing’s Harvest Mice

Heather Ryce releasing her captive bred harvest mice at Horsenden West meadows

“Conservation work involves the protection, preservation or restoration of nature and biodiversity, not a task one would immediately associate with Instagram or TikTok. However, more and more we are utilising social media platforms to share ideas and information, organise events and have conversations with one another regarding wildlife and the environment. It’s blending our very primal need to be one with nature with our newly evolved reliance on technology, and in most cases, it is working to the benefit of the natural world. 

In the case of releasing endangered captive-bred harvest mice back in Ealing we have Instagram Stories to thank. No, really. 

I have followed Dr Sean McCormack and Ealing Wildlife Group on social media for a while. I was inspired by the passion and innovation of both and drawn back each time on my phone by the community spirit and the sharing of wildlife photographs and information.

When Sean posted on his Instagram about a new project to return harvest mice back in a suitable habitat and monitor their population I paused my Netflix show, put my glass of red wine back on the coffee table and furiously began constructing my reply. I had to be involved. 

I work as an Animal Keeper and Education Officer at a small zoo in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. We care for a very successful breeding group of harvest mice and had been on the look out for a while for a project to introduce our mice back into the wild, as we were reaching maximum capacity in their enclosure. 

Some of the first Calderglen mice installed in EWG’s brand new captive breeding programme HQ

We had explored options in the past, but nothing seemed to work out or last. I wanted a project that Calderglen could fully get behind and believe in, and that gave our Scottish mice the best chance at surviving. 

After talks with Sean I knew the area chosen for their release and the people involved offered the harvest mice the best chance at restoring a wild population in Ealing. A species that hasn’t been recorded there since the late 1970s. It was time for that to change. 

After a couple of months of more conversations and planning with Sean the morning arrived for the long journey down to London. I plucked the fittest mice from the safety of their captivity, clinging unknowingly to their corkscrew hazel branch and silently wished each one good luck as I placed them into the travel box, awaiting a life of freedom only wild animals understand. 

It’s not lost on me the control humans have over non-human species and even though in my heart I knew I was doing the right thing for the conservation of harvest mice, looking at each individual twitching face, I also battled with doubt if it was what they would want. 

It may seem silly, after all how could a mouse possibly understand the concept of consent and the importance of its little life in the preservation of its entire species, but it certainly picked at my moral compass regardless. 

It’s why I take so much comfort in Ealing Wildlife Group’s project because out of the many that have been reviewed by Calderglen this one surpassed expectation. 

Heather Ryce at Horsenden Farm, ready to go release her precious charges into the wild

It was a lovely evening when I met with members and volunteers of Ealing Wildlife Group and I quickly felt I was with ‘my people’. Our enthusiasm and passion kept the chat flowing as the sun started to dip and the smiles and laughs just got wider and louder even after we stopped recording videos on our phones. Everyone was excited to be there, everyone wished for the success of the project, and everyone believed it was the right thing to do to give back to nature. 

Heather and EWG’s Caroline and Sean chat to passersby about the mice and reintroduction programme

We let Calderglen’s mice go in thickets of grass and flowers, with a small shelter and some food left behind for a short-term resource if they should need it. I watched one particular brown and white fuzzy ball dart immediately from the travel box and wind its way gracefully into the foliage. 

Heather, Sean and Caroline assess a likely release location for one group of mice

A bubble of emotion rose in my throat as I again wished it a silent good luck. As I uploaded the video to my Instagram with the caption ‘They’re free!’ and watched the mouse get lost behind stalks of green and fade from view, my doubts vanished. The harvest mice were home. “

The door to their soft release tank (with familiar food, water and shelter) is open, and they are free to be wild again…

Heather Ryce

Animal Keeper and Education Officer

Calderglen Zoo

(All photo credits to Council ranger James Morton, who accompanied us on this release alongside fellow ranger Jon Staples to whom we are grateful for collaborating on this project)

New Harvest Mouse partnership with Battersea Children’s Zoo

Battersea Harvest Mice

We’re very excited to be partnering with Battersea Children’s Zoo and their sister zoo, New Forest Wildlife Park, both of which will be providing us with captive bred harvest mice to release in Ealing over the coming years. I recently visited Battersea and was astounded by their beautiful Harvest Mouse exhibit, which showcases just how busy (and adorable) these little mice are. Here’s what Head Keeper, Jamie Baker, has to say about the partnership:

“Battersea Park Children’s Zoo has always championed British native species. Alongside our conservation work with other BIAZA and EAZA facilities on European Endangered Species breeding programmes we have always worked to put our own native species at the forefront of our work. As one of most successful zoos working with the Scottish wildcat breeding programme, producing 5 kittens over the last couple of years, we also collaborate on reintroduction projects for native hedgehogs and of course, Eurasian harvest mice, which are increasingly threatened in Britain. 

Battersea Children’s Zoo Harvest Mouse enclosure


We currently have one of the largest harvest mouse exhibits in the country and actively breed mice at the zoo before transferring them to reintroduction projects up and down the country. Education is key in providing a future for our native species, so our dedicated harvest mouse barn is a great opportunity for our yearly 8500 school children to connect with these relatively unheard of creatures. 


We are excited to have struck a new partnership with Ealing Wildlife Group and can’t wait to shine a light on their amazing work to restore wild places in London and reintroduce native species. Our curator Jason and head keepers Jamie and Charlotte had the pleasure of welcoming Sean to the zoo recently to discuss our joint passion for harvest mouse conservation and we look forward to providing captive bred harvest mice to Ealing Wildlife Group’s upcoming release projects. Joining forces to rewild some amazing habitats in West London.”

The team at Battersea and New Forest are also keen to come help us survey for harvest mice to monitor how well the reintroduction project is going over the coming years. There will also be opportunities for volunteers to help with this important work. Exciting times!

Rewilding Ealing, one mouse at a time

Calderglen Harvest Mice arrive in Ealing (Photo: James Morton)

We’ve recently kicked off our ‘Rewilding Ealing’ initiative with the reintroduction of locally extinct and nationally threatened species, the diminutive Harvest Mouse. Also known by its scientific name of Micromys minutus, or the ‘minute micro mouse’, it’s the UK and Europe’s smallest rodent, and the only one with a prehensile tail designed to cling to the finest of grass stalks and vegetation as it climbs.

Last year we outlined the aims, preliminary survey work and preparations for the project in a live webinar, recording available to watch here:

We were thrilled with the reaction to our crowdfunding campaign to raise funds not only to source mice in large numbers for release but also allow us to buy equipment and housing for our very own captive breeding facility. We asked our community of wildlife fans to sponsor a mouse for £10 and reached our target within days. The crowdfunder, which is still open to donations to support our borough wide conservation efforts, can be found here:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ealingharvestmice?utm_term=V7VrrkVVn

We’ve partnered with Calderglen Zoo in East Kilbride near Glasgow who have been breeding Harvest Mice, and a few weeks ago delivered our very first mice to be released as well as to form the foundation of our own captive breeding colony.

And since the initial release we’ve had quite a bit of interest and coverage including BBC London and Scotland news. Check out the release and see these amazing little rodents being set free into the wild after a potential absence of 30-40 years from our borough here:

(Featured image: James Morton)

PRESS RELEASE:

For immediate release

For press enquiries contact:

Heidi Cullip

07989 471 584

[email protected]

Group reintroduces the threatened Harvest Mouse back to London!

Harvest Mice are set to be released in a new location in London by a local community group in Ealing, West London – bringing the rodents back to the area for the first time in decades.

Harvest Mice are Britain and Europe’s smallest rodent, and, in recent decades, these miniature mammals have undergone rapid declines due to changes in land management nationwide.  The mice live mainly in grassland areas and eat seeds, fruit and invertebrates and build their spherical nests high up in tall grasses.  

Reinstating the harvest mouse population is important for a number of reasons but, most significantly, their presence in the Ealing area can support the wider food chain and will be a welcome addition for Ealing’s growing populations of birds of prey including Barn Owls, Kestrels and Little Owls.

Local community group, Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG) are behind the project.  EWG are focussed on bringing nature back to urban areas and have spearheaded a number of other successful projects in the area including driving the increase in bird of prey species nesting in the borough.  

In order to release the Harvest Mice, Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG) successfully crowdfunded their project to purchase hundreds of captive bred mice from one of the UK’s leading rewilding experts and set up small breeding colonies of their own. The plan is to release the mice into the wild over the next couple of years.

Sean McCormack, Chair of local conservation community Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG), believes that communities and councils can work together to create suitable space for nature, and the Harvest Mice reintroduction project is just the latest in a long line of projects being spearheaded by EWG.  Dr McCormack said:

“After extensive surveying of likely locations in Ealing, we believe Harvest Mice are locally extinct here due to historic habitat loss and fragmentation.  Over the last few years however, there has been an effort to manage some of Ealing’s green spaces more sympathetically for nature.  What this has done has enabled several sites within the borough to now have habitats suited to the reintroduction of Harvest Mice.”

After holding a webinar with the local community to outline the details of the project, McCormack set up a crowdfunding page to help fund the reintroduction – asking funders to ‘sponsor’ a mouse for £10.  The money raised will go to buying mice from a responsible breeder, one who supplies many rewilding projects with rare and threatened native wildlife, plus equipment for setting up some small breeding colonies of their own – enabling EWG to continue releasing mice into the wild in Ealing over the next couple of years. 

EWG are also partnering with a number of conservation organisations already breeding Harvest Mice including Calderglen Zoo in East Kilbride near Glasgow, who have supplied the first cohort of mice to have been set free into the wild in Ealing.

EWG will also spend an extra £500 on Longworth live mammal traps, enabling the harmless monitoring of small mammal populations in Ealing.  This monitoring will ensure the habitat management continues to be successful and that populations of the harvest mice, as well as other small mammals such as voles and shrews, can continue to thrive for years to come.

Fundraising has been incredibly successful and the £2,500 target was hit within days of set up however, if you would like to contribute to this exciting urban rewilding project, you can find the Harvest Mice Reintroduction page here.  

If you would like to watch the Harvest Mouse webinar to hear more about this exciting project, you can find it on YouTube: youtube.com/c/EalingWildlifeGroup/ 

About Dr Sean McCormack

Sean McCormack, vet and Chair of local conservation community Ealing Wildlife Group is passionate about nature and biodiversity.  He has a large instagram following and offers content across a variety of topics (animal welfare, biodiversity and allotmenting).  He also showcases some of EWG’s practical conservation projects on their highly subscribed YouTube channel. Sean hosts the popular podcast ‘Sean’s Wild Life’ talking to relevant experts and celebrity guests to explore topics in nature conservation, rewilding, sustainability and our connections to nature.

Instagram:  @thatvetsean

https://drseanmccormack.com/

About EWG

EWG is an inclusive community of locals interested in nature and wildlife in the Borough of Ealing and beyond.  Set up in early 2016 by Sean McCormack, a vet and lifelong naturalist, the overall aim of the group is to build a community of like-minded individuals, who are passionate to learn more about nature and who see the value in actively conserving it.  Since 2016 it has grown steadily in membership and secured funding for several community environmental projects.  The main hub of activity and discussion remains the Facebook group, where members can truly appreciate the diversity of wildness on our doorstep through others’ observations and posts.

Rewilding Ealing update: Harvest Mice are coming!

We have been busy behind the scenes scoping out the habitats, logistics and feasibility considerations for reintroducing Harvest Mice to Ealing. This tiny rodent species has declined significantly nationwide in recent decades, and we believe after much surveying in suitable habitats that it is locally extinct. For more context on Harvest Mice and the project you can watch our kick off meeting here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNbY6TtgJnA&t=13s

As with any reintroduction project, there are ethical and practical procedures and guidelines to follow so as not to:

  • cause harm to the local ecosystem
  • cause welfare issues with the reintroduced species or others in the local environment
  • cause socio-economic harm or concerns
  • introduce disease into natural ecosystems
Harvest Mouse by Amy Lewis, The Wildlife Trusts

We have reviewed DEFRA’s newly released codes and guidance for reintroductions and other conservation translocations. And we feel we have satisfied the requirements as well as carried out the appropriate surveying and preparations needed to justify and carry out a successful reintroduction programme. We’ve also consulted with previous Harvest Mouse reintroduction project managers and rewilding experts who advised us that we have the suitable, sustainable and connected habitat to bring back this lost species again. More info on the codes and guidance can be found here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987068/reintroductions-conservation-translocations-code-and-guidance-england.pdf

So what’s next and where are our mice coming from? Well, we’ve teamed up with a zoo and country park in Scotland who maintain a large colony of harvest mice and want to collaborate with us on an in-situ reintroduction and conservation project for the species in their natural habitat. We’re also working with renowned rewilding advocate and expert, Derek Gow and his team, who are supplying us with captive bred mice for mass release and to start our own ongoing captive breeding programme.

And we cannot thank you, our supporters, enough for donating to fund the project by sponsoring a mouse (or many mice in some cases!). It’s a project which has obviously captured the public imagination, and it has also attracted some media attention (watch this space!). We hope to start releasing mice as early as July and September this year, and hope to have some of you along to see ‘your’ mice return to the wild. The crowdfunding was a great success, and is still open for donation to support ongoing costs of the project if you wish to sponsor a mouse for just £10.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ealingharvestmice

Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more information so you don’t miss out on important announcements and our upcoming events schedule.

10 Ways to Make your Garden a Winter Haven for Wildlife

As the growing season winds down, people are starting to tidy their gardens and prepare them for winter. For wildlife friendly gardens and gardeners however, things are a little different, it’s far less tidy, and far better for the wildlife! Here are 10 things a wildlife gardener can do to prepare the garden for winter that benefit both the garden and the wildlife.

1. Clean feeders, feed the birds!

It’s always important to keep your bird feeders as clean as possible and this time of year is a good time to do it as it the feeders will be very busy over the next few months! Then fill the feeders with fat balls, fat blocks, coconut shells filled with fat, fat pellets, fat filled with berries, mealworms, peanuts! Lots of fat! Don’t use the plastic nets though as birds can get caught in them with tragic consequences! (Also we don’t need more plastic) Don’t forget seeds and fruit, and I was today years old when I found out you can leave out cheese and bacon bits as well (probably go sparingly so you don’t attract too many rats!) A firm favourite with my birds are sunflowers seeds, I think just about everyone likes them, I get the shelled ones, waaaay less mess! Don’t get cheap seed mixes though, they are often made with cheap grains that are too big for anything other than pigeons to eat, I learned this the hard way!

2. Keep water available!

Keep small bowls of water on the ground and/or bird baths available as it’s just as important for wildlife to access water in the winter as at any time of the year. If you have a pond and should it ice over (not super likely in London but it could happen), melt a hole in the ice so the critters can get in and out and drink, and to make sure your pond doesn’t become oxygen starved. Use a pan filled with hot water to melt a hole, do not bang on the ice to break it as this sends out painful shockwaves that can hurt wildlife. (I’m imagining being inside a ringing bell, not a pleasant thought!)

3. Watch out for Hibernating Animals!

Check bonfire material for hibernating animals such as toads, hedgehogs, and frogs before lighting! (Better yet only build the bonfire when you are ready to light it, then nothing can get into it) Be careful turning compost as it’s warm and could be full of slow worms, grass snakes, toads, frogs and other lovely things you want in your garden!

4. Make homes for the animals!

Don’t bag up all your leaves, spread them on the flower beds, it’s good for your soil and it provides shelter for frogs, and insects, and gives Blackbirds and thrushes, and Violet Ground Beetles a place to forage for food. Leave some pots and piles of bricks laying around for newts and toads ( they like the greenhouse too so watch out for them if you are tidying, I have frogs in mine!) Make or buy some bug hotels for the leaf cutter bees and other insects such as lacewings and ladybirds, or just drill some holes in a log! Place clay roof tiles in the pond for the frogs and newts that may be overwintering in the pond.

5. Leave the Soil alone!

If you can help it, avoid digging your garden beds, as many spider eggs and insect larvae (especially moths) overwinter in the soil.

6 Plant some Winter Berries!

Shrubs that feed wildlife in winter are great for gardens because they also provide beautiful flowers in the spring and summer, lovely foliage in the Autumn and striking berries and stems in the winter! I wrote another post with a list of native berries here (such as hawthorn, rowan, guelder rose etc) but other good non-native garden shrubs for wildlife are Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Barberry (Berberis), and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) although be careful with the last one, it can get invasive if not carefully controlled!

7. Leave it Wild!

Avoiding trimming ivy and don’t cut hedges until at least March. Both provide much needed food and shelter for overwintering wildlife. Leave all the herbaceous plants untrimmed until early spring. Leave it messy! Many insects overwinter in hollow stems, ladybirds will all snuggle up on a stem for the winter and if there is one thing you really want in your garden, it’s ladybirds! When you do finally cut the stems down in spring, set them aside in stacks until May so the insects can emerge safely.

8. Clean Ponds!

Winter (Oct through January) is the best time to clean your pond as it is the time of lowest activity. However there are still active critters in there so be careful! Always stack the weeds and debris you clear from a pond on the edge for a few days so things can crawl out and back into the water. Having a little poke around and giving some of the dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, other invertebrates, newts, frogs, and snails a helping hand back into the water is nice too.

9 . Clean out Nest Boxes!

In late winter clean out the nest boxes for the upcoming spring nesting season. Also be aware that some birds will roost communally in nest boxes in the winter to stay warm, especially wrens and house sparrows so making sure they have nest boxes or roosting pouches in you garden in winter could be very beneficial!

10. Help the Butterflies!

There are five species of butterfly in the UK that hibernate in winter as adults, the brimstone, comma, peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral. Two of these, the Peacock and the Small Tortoiseshell usually overwinter in a shed or garage, and if you see them there, leave them be. Sometimes though they will try to hibernate in your house, which would be fine if it didn’t get so warm. When the butterflies get warm they wake up and think it’s spring, and that is not going to be a good time for the poor butterfly when it’s still winter and there is no food in sight. So if you find an awake and confused butterfly in your house, the Scottish Wildlife Trust suggests the following:

The best thing you can do if you see a butterfly flying about in your house in the middle of winter is to help it relocate to a cooler spot. Put it in a cardboard box for a while to calm it down and then leave it in your shed, garage or another suitable location. Somewhere cool and dry is ideal. Remember to set it free when spring arrives!

Laura Preston, Scottish Wildlife Trust

So there it is, ten ways to help make your garden a safe haven for wildlife this winter! You will be rewarded come spring with an abundance of helpful creatures to keep your garden ticking along as well as the knowledge that you are also helping them to survive and thrive when so many are in shocking rates of decline across the country. Gardens make up one of the largest green spaces in the UK so we can have a huge impact on the future of wildlife, one garden at a time!

Rewilding Ealing: Harvest Mice

Photo: Harvest Mouse by Amy Lewis, The Wildlife Trusts

This Friday Dec 4th at 8pm, join Sean McCormack for an online discussion about a potential reintroduction project of Harvest Mice in Ealing. We’ll be exploring whether we have Europe’s smallest rodent species in the Borough, how we might find out with some help from our members, whether we still have suitable habitat and why such a project might be beneficial to people and biodiversity.

This is hopefully the first in a series of talks exploring rewilding and nature conservation in Ealing.

There are 100 spaces; first come, first served. Please do join live so you can take part in the Q&A afterwards. A recording of the session will be posted after for those who missed the live event.

The meeting will be on Zoom, details as follows:

Ealing Wildlife Group is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Rewilding Ealing: Harvest Mice

Time: Dec 4, 2020 08:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83855182276…

Meeting ID: 838 5518 2276Passcode: 581930

What to see & do in October

The nights are drawing in and we’ve seen a bit more rain but it doesn’t mean that we need to stay indoors!  The ‘there’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’ quote is one which has a lot of truth to it so, once you’ve wrapped up and ventured outside, what can you expect to find?

Autumn Trees by Jane Ruhland

Blazing branches 

October is the month in which to see the leaves on the trees changing colour.  This is a visible signal of the physical and chemical changes going on inside the plant as it prepares for winter but it’s also absolutely glorious to look at.  Trees full of leaves which are vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, looking like they’re on fire in the sunshine, are a sight to behold and it’s not around for long so now is the time to get out and see it. 

Fabulous fungi

Wherever you’re out and about, start looking for signs of fungi – on trees, forest floors and in your own gardens.  Weird and wonderful, there’s around 15,000 species of wild mushroom found in the UK so you’ve got your work cut out to see them all! Mushrooms and fungi can be poisonous so it’s always best to look and not touch.  You can see a list of the ten most common UK species in this handy guide.

Autumn fungi by Susan Quirke

Watch wildlife 

Wildlife remains active in October with lots of magical displays of behaviour.  You can watch the arrival of migrant birds such as Waxwing, Redwing and Fieldfares. Listen out for the thin “Tseep-tseep” calls of these migrants overhead at night. Get on down to the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes for a spectacle of newly arrived wading birds, ducks and geese.  Head to Richmond Park and try to catch a glimpse of deer rutting (from a safe distance!).   You can admire intricate spider webs bejewelled with rain drops and watch out for busy squirrels and jays foraging for nuts to hoard!

Red Deer portrait by David Gordon Davy

Record what you see

A lot of the work we do at EWG can feed into larger studies and networks, when we get the time to collate and submit our records.  We’re big believers in ‘Think Global, Act Local’ – doing what you can in your local area to help out.  Recording what you see can help UK wide studies understand things like how climate change is affecting our planet or could help highlight other issues which may be present in our environment.  Citizen science! The Woodland Trust’s Natures Calendar is just one way in which you can get involved and help.  Not only does it help you spot and identify nature in your local area, you will also be helping to monitor the health and biodiversity of our planet! Others include Greenspace Information for Greater London or GiGL (https://www.gigl.org.uk/). So if you’ve seen a hedgehog or a slow worm, an unusual butterfly or bird get your records in!

Hedgehog Awareness Week 2020: How can you help?

Did you know it’s Hedgehog Awareness Week? Well it is, so here are our top tips for attracting and helping these prickly garden visitors, who sadly are in decline in the UK.

Hedgehog by Rob Fenton

Build A Hedgehog Highway

One of the challenges facing hedgehogs in urban areas is getting around enough gardens at night to forage. Solid walls and fences don’t help when you need to travel up to a mile in one night to find enough food. So cut a hole or leave a gap about the size of a music CD in each of your garden boundaries. Encourage your neighbours to do the same so each little island of garden habitat is connected and hedgehogs can get around.

Hedgehog morning travels by Esther Brooks

Stop The Slug Pellets

These (and all other garden chemicals) are not only harmful to pests eating your precious plants, but anything else that eats them afterwards. Like hedgehogs, amphibians and the beautiful but declining Song Thrush. There are just as effective organic or chemical-free solutions to slug control. My favourite is a biological control that uses tiny parasitic nematodes that kill slugs but don’t harm anything else. Beer traps also work well, and the slugs die happy. Or you could just garden with plants that are great for wildlife and not so prone to slug damage?

Build A Log Pile

Stack logs, branches and woody cuttings in a pile in a quiet area. Leave a large cavity in the centre and some gaps a hedgehog might be able to squeeze through. Not only will it provide a potential hedgehog home but rotting wood is an important habitat for insects and other invertebrates, hedgehog food! You may also attract newts, toads, slow worms and even stag beetles! The more dead wood you can include in your garden habitat the better.

Provide Water

A shallow dish of fresh water can be a lifesaver to a thirsty hedgehog in the summer months. If you can create a small container pond or full-on wildlife pond even better, but make sure there are ways for hedgehogs to scramble out of a pond if they fall in. Ponds with steep, slippery sides are a death trap for hedgehogs and other wildlife so create a beach area in the shallows or pile up some logs, branches and plants near the side just in case.

Hanwell Hedgehog by James Morton

Check Compost Heaps & Bonfire Piles

These piles of material can make excellent homes or temporary shelters for hedgehogs too. Always check them carefully before sticking a garden fork in them or lighting that fire.

Make A Feeding Station

With a few simple supplies you can create a hedgehog restaurant that excludes larger diners like cats and foxes. You could even set up a trail camera and see who comes to visit your garden at night. Fun for all the family!

Log Your Sightings

To allow conservation organisations to build up a picture of where hedgehog hot spots are and where they are in trouble, we need the power of Citizen Science! So log your sightings of hedgehogs here and here. We’d also love you to post any sightings or photos you have on Facebook for our members to enjoy.

Donate to Hedgehog Awareness Week

 https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/HAW20

Ealing bats in 2020!

As the future of group activities looks uncertain with Covid-19 lockdown in place, one question we’ve been asked a number of times in recent weeks is whether there will be any bat walks in the season ahead. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to lead any sizable group walks any time soon. But all is not lost for you batty fans!

EWG Hanwell Viaduct bat walk (Photo credit: Steve Morey)

As our Dawn Chorus walk showed, virtual walks and activities are still an option. And a couple of weeks ago I took my bat detector out on my daily exercise at dusk, and transmitted through Facebook Live to see if it would work. And it did!

Bats in May

Now May and warmer weather are here bats are getting really active, feeding on flying insects, replacing lost energy reserves from hibernation and soon giving birth to tiny new baby bats. In fact May is the month most females will be heading to their communal maternity roost. Like a giant bat creche where they all have their babies. We’re lucky in Ealing to have lots of green space and wildlife corridors that bats (and other wildlife) need to survive and thrive. And we need to protect these spaces as best we can. Bats are an indicator species for the health of our wider habitats and ecosystems, so that’s why we’ve focused so much of our monitoring and public educational activities on them.

We’ve recorded 7 confirmed species in Ealing over the course of 38 public bat walks and many outings from members of our EWG bat pack over the past 4 years. And we’re providing all of our bat data to London Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust. It’s also an asset going forward for site specific development issues. The species we have confirmed in Ealing to date are as follows:

  1. Common Pipistrelle
  2. Soprano Pipistrelle
  3. Nathusius’ Pipistrelle
  4. Noctule
  5. Leisler’s
  6. Daubenton’s
  7. Brown Long Eared
Common Pipistrelle examined in hand during trapping and monitoring by London Bat Group under license (Photo credit: Sean McCormack)

Bats have fascinating biology, behaviour and habits, they’re much misunderstood. They are secretive and come out at night when we can barely observe them. Kids enjoy staying up late to see them, and a bat walk combines nature with technology. What’s not to love?

Bat Walks

I don’t know of anyone who’s experienced bats flying overhead with an electronic detector in hand to listen to their high pitched calls who hasn’t been thrilled or fascinated.

So I’m going to try to schedule a series of virtual bat walks via Facebook live this batty season, so at least if we can’t go watch them together we can have the next best thing.

Sean with bat detector

If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, what are you waiting for? That’s where we’ll transmit the live walks, and the event dates will be posted on there soon as well as on our website.

In the meantime, if you’re having bat withdrawal symptoms, here’s a couple of entertaining bat shaped videos on our YouTube channel:

I look forward to seeing and chatting with you on a Virtual Bat Walk very soon! And if you have any comments or questions, do let us know.

Sean