Weasel image by Mark Hill
Many mammals, by their nature, are scarcely seen at Paxton Pits – but they are there! For most species, the best chance is around dawn or dusk, since many are nocturnal, but they can be found at any time.
Paxton’s most popular mammal, and one that every visitor wants to see, is the characterful otter.
A good number of otters have been seen in 2020. Sightings were spread throughout the year but there was a notable increase towards the end of the year. Early year sightings were mainly on the Heronry Lakes with additional sightings on Cloudy Lake and on the river at the Moorings.
In November and December there were regular sightings on Hayling Lake and Rudd Lake. Another spot for less frequent but regular sightings was between Washout Pit and the river.
We now know we have all three pipistrelle bats on the Reserve. We come across Common and Soprano Pips quite widely over the site but have also picked up Nathusius’ Pips, mainly at the north end of Moorings Meadow. We have our fair share of Daubenton’s, flying over water as you would expect but particularly over the river off the River Viewpoint. We’ve also found the occasional Noctule plus a few unidentified. This latter group are a group of Myotis bats where the sonograms are too similar for distinction, so further work required. In our case these were probably Daubenton’s but could be Whiskered or Brandt’s. We have archive records of Brown Long-eared bats but haven’t found any recently.
- Rabbits are the most frequently seen species, especially in the open, sandy areas near Hayden Hide.
- Muntjac deer are regularly seen out in the open
- Grey squirrels are very common, and a melanistic (black) squirrel of this species is sometimes seen at the Visitor Centre bird feeders.
- Foxes are often seen resting on the banks of Heronry North on sunny winter days.
- Stoats and weasels are enigmatic at Paxton, but we do receive occasional reports of both.
- Signs of badgers are found across the whole reserve, including their latrines, setts and overturned cowpats, though the animals themselves are rarely seen.
- Wood mice and brown rats are present around the lakes, the latter seen occasionally on the bird tables.
- Surveys have also confirmed the presence of harvest mice, water shrews and short-tailed field voles.