Mammal camera trapping in the New Forest: 2016 review

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By Russell Wynn, 09 January 2017

In 2016, WNF operated two camera traps in the New Forest under Forestry Commission licence. The aim was to collect information on the distribution of some of the scarcer mammal species in the national park, such as Muntjac Deer and possibly Polecat, Otter and Pine Marten. An introduction to the project was provided in an earlier blog:

http://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/mammal-camera-trapping-in-the-new-forest/

We were very lucky to record a Pine Marten in early spring at a site in the central New Forest, as already detailed in the blog post below:

http://www.wildnewforest.co.uk/pine-martens-filmed-in-the-new-forest/

The camera traps also recorded several other wild mammal species up to the end of October, with Fallow Deer, Fox and Grey Squirrel being the most regularly encountered. We also saw occasional Roe Deer and one sighting of two young Red Deer stags at Rhinefield. The largest herd of Fallow Deer was 14, and several pale ‘leucistic’ individuals were seen.

 

A pale ‘leucistic’ Fallow Deer buck, photographed near Rhinefield on 06 Oct 2016
A pale ‘leucistic’ Fallow Deer buck, photographed near Rhinefield on 06 Oct 2016

 

More surprising was the frequency with which Muntjac Deer were recorded, particularly from traps operated in the Rhinefield area. Most encounters were of individual animals, but occasional sequences of two or three together were obtained. At one site, Muntjacs were recorded on an almost daily basis, and it became obvious that up to three females (does) were routinely crossing an area of open ground between the dense cover of conifer plantations; they appeared to be active at any time of day or night, with no obvious daily or seasonal pattern.

 

Muntjac Deer doe, recorded near Rhinefield at 1222 hrs on 31 Aug 2016
Muntjac Deer doe, recorded near Rhinefield at 1222 hrs on 31 Aug 2016

 

Finally, one of the cameras was deployed at a Badger sett in the Brockenhurst area for short periods in late winter and early summer, and captured images of at least three adults and a cub in June.

 

Adult and cub Badger, photographed outside their sett near Brockenhurst on 11 June 2016
Adult and cub Badger, photographed outside their sett near Brockenhurst on 11 June 2016

 

We intend to resume the mammal camera-trapping project in early 2017, once the Forestry Commission licence has been renewed and the cameras have been serviced and new batteries installed. Fingers crossed for some more Pine Marten sightings, or maybe even a Polecat or Otter!

Many thanks to Jayne Albery and Andy Page of the Forestry Commission for their support with licences, and to Martin Noble of Hampshire Mammal Group for providing advice on potential sites for selected species.

 

Fallow Deer fawn suckling a doe, photographed near Rhinefield on 08 Oct 2016
Fallow Deer fawn suckling a doe, photographed near Rhinefield on 08 Oct 2016