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Report from Mammal Recorder This year there have been several reports of ‘true’ polecats, with most records in the south associated with Wissington, Leavenheath and Assington. There is an expanding population in north Essex which is likely to be the reservoir for these animals. However, on 17 November there was a record of a polecat in South Lopham, Norfolk with the animal photographed before being released from a rabbit trap, indicating their spread is wider than previously thought. It has been confirmed that there is a breeding colony of black or ship rat Rattus rattus on land associated with Ipswich Docks (Plate 1). This is a scarce UK mammal and they have not been recorded in the county for decades and it is highly likely that they arrived via shipping. More details are available in White Admiral 89. Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s hedgehog survey has been very successful with over 7000 records being submitted. Despite concerns that there has been a 30% decline in numbers nationally, it appears that hedgehogs are still widely distributed across the county, with the highest concentration of records in the towns. Analysis of the large database is now taking place and it is intended to run the survey for a second year. On 23 October 2014 Carl Chapman reported a humpback whale about 2.5-3 miles off the coast at Minsmere, travelling south. Emma Webb of MARINElife confirmed that it was likely to be the same animal that was seen at a similar place and time of year in 2013. On 18 November and during the following three days, up to 40 pilot whales were recorded in the Blackwater in Essex, chasing herring up the narrow channels at high tide. There was considerable concern that the pod would beach and a huge team was mobilised from British Divers Marine Life Rescue to try to prevent this. At the time of writing, the pod was back out to sea and only one stranded casualty (a youngster). Although sightings of harbour porpoises are reasonably frequent along our coast, such incidences mean that we should be alert for other species of cetacean. A very well attended Suffolk Mammal Conference was held on 15 November 2014 at The Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds, organised by Suffolk Mammal Group with assistance from Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Naturalists’ Society. Speakers covered a diverse range of topics including hedgehogs (Pat Morris), badgers (Michael Noonan), hazel dormice (Simone Bullion), water voles (Darren Tansley), polecats (Johnny Birks) and cetaceans (Emma Webb). The question of too many deer was raised in the talk given by Rob Fuller and loss of red squirrels from the county and the need to address their continued decline in the North of England by John Gurnell. We hope to include full versions, or at least summaries, of the talks in next year’s Transactions. Suffolk Mammal Group are now focusing on encouraging more people to become involved in the recording, study and conservation of Suffolk mammals. The group can be contacted at: suffolkmammals@outlook.com Simone Bullion

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

P. Woolley

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Plate 1: Juvenile Black Rat Rattus rattus, found at Ipswich Docks in June 2014. (p. 1).

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)

Report from Mammal Recorder  

Simone Bullion

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