Hiding in the scrub, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the footpath network and farm business, are nineteen mammal species.
Rare bats detected
Nine species of bat use the scrub for foraging and, in some case, perhaps even roosting in the summer. These include tiny pipistrelles fluttering amongst the leafy ends of twigs and the mighty noctule high in the turquoise-twilight sky above the scrub flying in circles before diving onto insects rising into the gathering night. There are also lesser and greater horseshoe bats which is very exciting as, not only do they have fascinating scrunched up faces, they are also both rare and iconic species.
Hoping to see hares
There are ten other mammal species though, sadly, there are no brown hares. In the recent past, there would have been many brown hares; maybe with sympathetic land management they will return. For now, though, tantalising recordings from a static bat detector indicate that there may possibly be common dormouse and harvest mice, pygmy and water shrew, together with the handsome yellow-necked mouse, weasel, stoat and hedgehog. Time and more surveying will tell!
Dusk visitors to the scrub
In the evenings, roe deer emerge from the scrub - cautiously gazing around before stepping safely out onto the meadow below. A fox skirts the shadowy edge and, in the darkness, mice and voles scurry under low vegetation and along grass tunnels in the base of the grassy thatch at the scrub edge. Rabbits stop nibbling to watch alert, ears upright, as a badger digs for cockchafer larvae.
The secret life of birds in the scrub
But it’s the birds, perhaps, that take centre stage in and around the scrub. Find out why in our next post, Bird busy-ness!