This Reeves’ Muntjac buck was photographed by a remote camera at Callow Hill at 6 o’clock in the morning. Only the male Muntjac deer have antlers and these are cast in May and this one has recently lost one – it had 2 the previous night. The camera was erected after Muntjac droppings were found. It was left out for 2 nights and 5 mammals were recorded using this small animal path – Badger, Fox, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit and the Muntjac.
Reeves' Muntjac buck, Callow Hill, 13 May 2016
Droppings from a Reeves' Muntjac, Callow Hill, 9 May 2016
I left my remote camera out in Wyre recently and was delighted to get a movie of a female Otter and her 2 cubs! Two screen grabs are attached.
Female otter and 2 cubs, Wyre Forest 23rd August 2014
Otter cub, Wyre Forest 23rd August 2014
Joe Turner has taken this impressive photograph of a special Fallow Deer in Wyre. All the bucks should have good heads of antlers at this time of the year in readiness for the rut, so this one looks like a doe, but Chris Bradley says: “Actually it is not a doe, but rather the OLD WHITE BUCK, now eleven plus years old, and gone completely back, with only rudimentary antlers, knobs, visible. He will probably take little part in the forthcomming rut. He often spends the summer months around Lodge Hill Farm, etc. In March there were about ten white deer in the Forest, mostly does, but also including a SOREL, a PRICKET and two buck fawns, one around Dowles Manor/Skeys Wood. I have not yet had the opportunity to discover how many white fawns, if any, were born this year.” The white deer are not albinos, but one of several different colour varieties.
Fallow Buck ©Joe Turner, Wyre Forest 2 September 2014
Roy Finch spotted this piece of detached Fallow Deer antler velvet in Postensplain. The Fallow bucks cast their antlers each spring and the new growth, extensions of the pedicles, develops very quickly over about 4 months being fed by many blood vessels in the velvet. When the antlers are fully grown, the velvet is rubbed off to expose the new clean antlers beneath which are ready when the bucks fight in the October rut.
Discarded velvet from Fallow Buck antler, Postensplain, 23 August 2014
The Water Shrew is an secretive mammal that is said to be widespread, although not often seen. Records are usually made from skulls in owl pellets or a dead animal. However, I was very pleased to see a live one in the small stream in my garden (a tributary of Gladder Brook) at Bliss Gate on 26th August 2013. I watched it for about 5 minutes whilst it was busy feeding amongst the Fool’s Water-cress Apium nodiflorum. Luckily I had my camera round my neck and managed to get a few shots before it scuttled off under the vegetation.
Water Shrew, Willow Bank, 26 August 2013
- Water Shrew feeding, Willow Bank, 26th August 2013
There are about six white Fallow deer in the forest. They are not albinos, but one of the colour variants, the others being common, menil and black. This buck is 9 years old and is one of the master bucks of Wyre. He held a rutting stand in the forest last autumn. Bucks cast their antlers in the spring and the new antlers are in velvet and just starting to grow. They will reach full size in time for the rut in September.
White Fallow Buck amongst the Bluebells, New Parks
The Grey Seal spent Sunday 13th January 2013 in Bewdley. During the morning she was seen up near the Dowles Book confluence and at lunchtime she was watched dodging the boats out practicing from the rowing club. I heard someone shout to one crew – “You’ve just run over a seal!” She swam down to Bewdley quay where several startled onlookers saw her catch a Mallard drake, which explained why the birds had been looking so agitated as she swam past! She stayed in Bewdley town for a couple of hours before disappearing downstream at about 14.00.
The seal was seen again in Bewdley on Sunday 6th January 2013. It did not seem to be intimidated by people and spent some time snoozing close to shore after eating a large fish. The swans and ducks kept their distance!
A Grey Seal was first reported on the River Severn near Worcester on 17th November 2012. It made an appearance at Bewdley on 1st January 2013, and again on 4th January when this photograph was taken at 14.08 from Severn Side North when it spent about 15 minutes near the Rowing Club wall. Previously that day it had been seen at Beales Corner, near the Dowles outflow and was photographed eating a large fish on the west bank upstream of the bridge. This is apparently the first modern record of this species this far north in Worcestershire, but before all the weirs and locks were constructed perhaps seals were more commonplace?
We don’t receive many records of the elusive Water Shrew and we are uncertain of their status and distribution in and around Wyre. I was pleased to find some Water Shrew skulls and bones recently whilst sorting through the contents of an owl box that had been used by Barn Owls on a farm not far from Snuffmill Dingle. The photograph shows the lower jaws of Pygmy Shrew (top), Common Shrew (middle) and Water Shrew (bottom) for comparison. The latter has no cusps on the front tooth.