Mammals, reptiles and amphibians in the churchyard

This section of churchyard nature notes covers a wide range of animals that are difficult to see without making special arrangements, such as visiting at night or placing movement sensitive cameras to capture night visitors.  So surveying these species is difficult without special equipment, or looking for tell tale signs of presence.












The squirrel is the most obvious mammal that is likely to be seen as it scampers along the ground searching for food, or scurries up a tree when disturbed.  So far as we are aware the other commonly seen medium sized mammal, the rabbit, doesn't visit the churchyard.  At least its droppings are not found.  However, three sizeable mammals do visit.  There are regular reports of deer being seen around dawn browsing in the rough grassland. The question is, are they roe or fallow deer?  Our illustration above is of a roe deer but it has not been taken in our churchyard.  So the challenge is to photograph a deer in our churchyard, and nail the ID! Badger tracks have been noted and foxes are known to roam around Brent Knoll at night.













Smaller mammals in the shape of bats are definitely in evidence and lesser horseshoe bats roost in the south porch ceiling. Pipistrelles fly around the churchyard at dusk.  How do we know?  Surveys by local people and the Somerset Bat Group using bat detectors have demonstrated their presence. Furthermore bat droppings have to be cleared regularly from the front porch!  Other small mammals such as voles, mice and shrews are seldom seen but will almost certainly be found in the rough grassland on the north bank.  The difficulty is that a license is required to trap them so that their presence can be proved.

Evidence for mice inside the church is sometimes found in the form of droppings and chewed fabric. But the most dramatic evidence for their presence appeared during a  Remembrance Day service when a mouse entranced the congregation by running around the chancel steps during the sermon.  This incident provided the inspiration for writing a short story by one of our local school children.

Reptiles and amphibians are also elusive creatures.  There is no pond in our curchyard in which frogs can spawn but toads may be found on the damper north side of the church.  Grass snakes occur in the lower lying parts of Brent Knoll but are not known to frequent the churchyard.  Lizards in the shape of the slow worm might be seen if suitable habitats were created.  Leaving an old piece of corrugated iron under which they can shelter is the best method of achieving this.

The project will be holding a publicly advertised event to look at bats when Covid restrictions permit.

Page last updated: Wednesday 7th June 2023 12:37 PM
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