Parc Slip Nature Reserve near Bridgend is home to a large number of artificial cover sheets, placed down on different habitat types in order to entice reptile, amphibian and small mammal species to shelter beneath them.
The monitoring project currently being carried out since September this year by placement students Todd Jenkins and Izzy Dick is going well so far; a total of 401 animals of 14 different species have been sighted under the sheets placed around the reserve. This includes 49 reptiles, 89 small mammals, and 263 amphibians; by far the most commonly seen species being the great crested newt, with 224 sightings in the two months since recording began!
No reptiles have been seen since mid October; it is assumed that they have all now gone into hibernation. Amphibians are still frequently being seen but should be going into hibernation around the beginning of November, slightly later than usual due to the warm autumn weather.
Species found under the sheets are known to have a preference for either large or small cover sheets, therefore Izzy’s project is focusing on whether species will use a less favoured sheet size in the absence of their preference; further data collection is needed before analysis can take place.
Todd’s project of looking into the distribution and abundance of slow worms (only 12 have been seen since the start of surveying), by taking photos of their unique chin patterns in order to easily re-identify individuals, has come to a halt due to their winter hibernation, however it will resume in spring. He will also be looking into the movement of great crested newts, another species whose individuals can be recognised due to their unique belly patterns.
In other news, a brown hare has been seen in one of the improved fields at Parc Slip, and the harvest mouse survey, also being carried out by Todd and Izzy, has so far caught 9 harvest mice – it is nice to know that we have the smallest British rodent present on one of our reserves!
For more information, please feel free to contact Izzy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Todd at email@example.com.