Research Activities

All our trips have a research element and involve learning about wild mammals in the UK. We survey them to contribute to the UK National Mammal Atlas Project (NMAP). Studying mammals can be quite difficult. Although some animals are large and easy to see (like deer), small ones are harder to spot. Shrews are a good example as the smallest are only about 5cm long. On top of this, many species mostly come out at night. They do not make many distinct noises, so it is very difficult to detect them using direct sight or sound. On our conservation research holidays we have to work a bit harder to find them and discover what they are doing.

Conservation research

We teach and use three main ways of surveying mammals. These are spotting animal signs, camera trapping, and live trapping. All our holidays teach you how to look for signs of animals in the wild. We show you how to recognise tracks, scratch marks and any other physical signs such as scat. Plus, you’ll learn how to put up camera traps, so that we can photograph species remotely, and how to put out live-traps for small mammals. If we capture small animals, you will learn how to handle them safely so they can be released unharmed back into the wild once they have been weighed and their sex determined.

NMAP

Mammal atlases give descriptive accounts and distribution maps for wild mammals, bringing together as much data from as many reliable sources as possible. In Britain, The Mammal Society is coordinating the national mammal atlas (NMAP) by working to collate UK-wide information for the first time in over 20 years. Wild Days Conservation are contributing to the NMAP through our wildlife conservation research holidays.

What you’ll be doing:

Learning about mammal species

12aDiscover more about the British mammal species we’re studying. We’ll show you where to find them and how they live their lives. Species include stoats (pictured), dormice, shrews, bats and hedgehogs. You will gain fascinating new insights into the natural world.

Recognising signs of wild animals

12bDetect signs of animals in the wild and record their presence. The photo shows us examining results from a footprint tunnel. The trap has been baited with food and painted with ink strips. When an animal comes to eat it gets ink on its paws and leaves a trail of footprints for us to identify. A hedgehog has visited this one.

Live-trapping small mammals

12cLearn how to live trap small mammals safely so we can understand more about a population. We weigh and check each animal before releasing it unharmed back into the wild. The traps always contain plenty of warm bedding and food to make sure the animals are safe and comfortable while awaiting release.

Setting camera traps

12d

Find out how to set camera traps to capture images of animals. Camera traps take automatic photos or video clips whenever they detect warmth and movement. The images are useful for identifying wildlife activity that would otherwise go unobserved. Camera traps are excellent for revealing nocturnal wildlife.