Latest Sighting - 2019-08-18

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Mammals at Woolston Eyes

The mammals recorded on the Reserve all belong to the sub class Eutheria - Placental mammals and belong to the orders;

  • Rodentia - rats, mice, squirrels etc.

  • Lagomorpha - rabbits, hares etc.

  • Insectivora - insect eaters, hedgehogs, moles, etc.

  • Soricomorpha - Shrew forms

  • Carnivora - carnivores, dog-like, foxes, weasels, stoats, badgers etc.

Those recorded at Woolston Eyes are identified below;

Click here to view a list of mammals recorded at Wooslton

01 Bank Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Specie: Clethrionomys glareolus

Recorded in the 1982 study of the prey of Short-eared Owl by examination of their pellets. The species is around 83 to 121mm body length with a tail of 38 to 76mm, half as long as the body. Their weight is around 15 to 36g. It differs from the similar species Short-tailed or Field Vole by larger ears, longer tail and reddish-brown fur.

No Woolston image avaialble.

02 Field Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Species: Microtus agrestis

This small vole also known as, Short-tailed Vole, was first officially noted as present in 1979 and breeding has been confirmed during the 1980 Warrington New Town Ecological Survey of 1980 - summary report findings detailed at the end of this mammalia section.

No Woolston image available.

03 Water Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Species: Arvicola terrestris

Known also as the Water Rat, although similar looking at first glance they are distinguished from rats by the rounder noses, short stubby ears, chubby not sleek appearance and fleshy parts covered with hair - ears, tail and paws.

No Woolston image available.

John Blundell

04 Wood Mouse

Order: Rodentia Family: Muridae Species: Apodemus sylvaticus

The best chance of seeing Wood Mouse is around the hides on No3 Bed and particularly the feeding stations foraging for spilt seed. Wood Mouse have large ears (compared to the common house mouse) and long tails.

Photograph of Wood Mouse found in a Blue Tit nest box April 2018 on No.1 Bed

05 Brown rat

Order: Rodentia Family: Muridae Species: Rodentia norvegicus

The best chance of seeing Brown Rat is foraging under the bird feeders on No3 Bed.

No Woolston image available

06 Dormouse

Order: Rodentia Family: Gliridae Species: Muscardinus avellanarius

The only record of this rodent is referenced in the 1980 by K Dunne, R Barber and H Fisher Warrington New Town Ecological Survey, which is copied at the end of this mammalia setion.

No Woolston image available.

Dave Bowman

07 Grey Squirrel

Order: Rodentia Family: Sciuridae Specie: Sciurus carolinensis

Grey Squirrels numbers have increased dramatically on the Reserve and surronds in recent years and sightings have moved from occasional to common.

Photograph form Woolston Eyes

08 Brown Hare

Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae Species: Lepus europarus

One of the largest members of the lagomorpha, the body length of 480 to 750mm and weight of 2.5 to 7kg bears testament to that status. Unmistakable long hind legs and ears with characteristic black patches viewed from the back. Record date back to early years when grassland was much more extensive across the Eyes.

No Woolston image available

Hazel Rothwell

09 Rabbit

Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus

Rabbits are extremely common on the reserve particularly on the sandier banks and dense bramble cover along the Ship Canal track and boundaries of the four beds.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 31/05/2017

10 Hedgehog

Order: Insectivora Family: Erinaceomorpha Species: Erinaceus europaeus

Our only member of the ‘spiny’ mammal family and are unlike any other UK mammal thus being universally recognised, although generally nocturnal in habit. Their main predator is the badger.

No Woolston image available.

Chris Monks

11 Mole

Order: Insectivora Family: Soricomorpha Species: Talpa europaea

Generally subterranean the ‘molehills’ (spoil from their tunnels) are the first sign of their presence which are now evident on the reserve.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 16/03/2016

12 Common Shrew

Order: Soricomorpha Family: Soricidae Species: Soricidae

At 75mm (3 inches) this species is difficult to spot and is often only seen crossing a pathway or deceased on a pathway although active day and night. It is one of the most common Shrew on the Reserve and an important food prey for the carnivorous mammals, Kestrel and Owls.

No Woolston image available

Hazel Rothwell

13 Pygmy Shrew

Order: Soricomorpha Family: Soricidae Species: Sorex minutus

At 50mm (2 inches) this is 2/3rds the size of the Common Shrew and although common is seldom seen although active during the day and night. It is distinguished from the similar Common Shrew by its bi-colour coat, brownish grey on top and whitish beneath. Common Shrew exhibits tri-colouration, dark on top shading to brownish grey then white underneath.

Photograph, although of a dead specimen illustrates the characteristics, from No.3 Bed 22/06/2016

14 Daubenton's Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Myotis daubentonii

Bats are naturally very difficult to observe and identification is generally obtained from studies of the echolocation frequencies individual species use. Daubenton’s Bat call frequencies range from 32 to 85kHz but typical calls peak at 45 to 50kHz.

This species is associated with water, preferring woodland habitat, bridges, buildings etc. adjacent to water. Daubenton’s is a medium to small bat being 45 to 55mm with a wing span of 240mm to 275mm and a weight between 7g and 15g.

No Woolston image available.

15 Common Noctule Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Nyctalus noctula

Common Noctules have two common calls the frequencies of the first range from 26 to 47kHz, most energy being at 27kHz and last for 11.5ms. The second call frequency is 22 to 33kHz, having most energy at 22kHz and having most energy at 22kHz and a typical duration of 13.8ms.

This species prefers wooded areas and typically flies above and around the canopy. The Common Noctule is a large bat being typically 80mm with a wing span of 350mm.

No Woolston image available.

16 Common Pipistrelle Bat

Order Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The Common Pipestrelle is the smallest bat in Europe being 45 to 55mm with a wing span of 180mm to 250mm and a weight between 3.5g and 8.5g. It is very common on and around the Reserve and can be encountered feeding on small insects at dusk and dawn along tree lines and clearings.

Common Pipistrelle Bat call frequencies range from 45 to 76kHz, have most energy at 47kHz and last for 5.6ms.

No Woolston image available

17 Soprano Pipistrelle Bat

Order Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species Pipistrellus pygmaeus

The Soprano Pipestrelle was only separated from the Common Pipistrelle Bat in 1999 which it closely resembles in all aspects (see Common Pipistrelle above) other than echolocation frequencies.

Soprano Pipistrelle call frequencies range from 53 to 86kHz, have most energy at 55kHz and last for 5.8ms.

No Woolston image available

18 Roe Deer

Order Cetartiodactyla Family: Capreolus Species Capreolus capreolus

Our most widespread native deer who do not form herds but live generally as solitary individuals or small family groups. A relatively small deer standing around 100cm at the shoulder and is generally reddish brown in colour, more so in the summer months, and a white tail patch. Only the male carries antlers which are short, even in older bucks are only around 200mm long and generally only developing two or three points. Roe Deer are accidental visitors to the Reserve, not resident and infrequently seen.

No Woolston image available.

David Spencer

19 Fox

Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Species: Vulpa vulpa

Largely nocturnal but can be sighted anywhere on the Reserve especially during the breeding season when feeding young.

Photograph from No3 Bed 04/05/2016

David Bowman

20 Grey Seal

Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Species: Halichoerus grypus

A recent times accidental near visitor to the Eyes. One spent some time in the River Mersey adjacent to the northern edges of No.4 and No.3 Beds in the spring of 2000. Another seal was located on nearby Howley Weir in 2012. It is thought these seals follow the first salmon runs into the river from Liverool Bay.

Photograph from north bank No.3 Bed 05/01/2016

21 Stoat

Order: Carnivora - Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela erminea

Very similar to the Weasel but larger and has a black tip to the tail. Ermine is the name given to Stoat in the characteristc white winter coat.

No Woolston image available

22 Weasel

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela nivalis

This secretive mammal is infrequently recorded on the Reserve. The Weasel is smaller than the related Stoat and is the one without the black tip to the tail.

No Woolston photograph is available

Brian Gort

23 Otter

Order: Carnivora - Family: Mustelidae Species: Lutra lutra

The first record of Otter was of one seen and photographed on the old river under the footbridge to No.3 Bed on 3rd September 2014.

Photograph from Woolston No.3 Bed

David Bowman

24 Badger

Order: Canivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Meles meles

Badgers are nocturnal. Sightings on the Reserve are infrequent but the evidence of their existance is widespread and along the pathways in particular were their ‘grubbings’ for earthworms and larvae in the short grass can be seen daily. They are most frequently seen on No.3 Bed, walking along or crossing the paths and foraging under the feeders around the John Morgan Hide.

Photograph from No3 Bed 14/07/2014

25 American Mink

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela vison

Mink are now widespread in the UK and Woolston has maintained a popoulation for a number of years. Equally at home in the water as on land they are serious predators and pose a threat to our breeding birds, especially young and juvenile wildfowl.

Sightings on the Reserve are regular but infrequent.

No Woolston image available


The following data is from the “MANAGEMENT PLAN” published in 1985 and from Annual Reports of 1980 onwards.

The key to the table:-

  • S - survey undertaken in 1979
  • P - presence reported since the 1979 survey
  • R - trapping carried out by R Smith (ref “Small Mammals” WECG 1991 Annual Report pp.55-61)
  • O - remains found in Owl pellets (ref. “The Prey of Short-eared Owls” WECG 1982 Annual Report pp 34-36)
  • B - breeding confirmed
  • Nos - see notes at the end of the table.
English Latin No.1 No.2 No.3 No.4
Bank Vole Clethrionomys glareolus O
Bat spp. P P
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus O
Common Shrew Sorex araneus O SR
Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius P(1)
Fox Vulpes vulpes B P B B
Mink Mustela vison P P P
Pygmy Shrew Sorex minutus O
Rabbit Oryctolagus coniculus B B
Short-tailed Vole Microtus agrestis BP BSR BP
Stoat Mustela erminia P P P
Weasel Mustela nivalis P B B B
Woodmouse Apodemus sylvaticus O SR


  1. Warrington New Town Ecological Survey 1980 - K Dunne, R Barber, and H Fisher.