A herd of cattle, usually 15-20 strong, are grazed on Poor's Field each year to keep the scrub, such as bramble and grass, down. For the 2006 season we had a 20-strong herd of Belgian Blue bullocks on loan from a local farm.
Fox – Vulpes vulpes
The fox has adapted to the taming of the countryside and urban spread better than other carnivores. An adult fox is about 70 cms from head to tail, and the bushy tail or 'brush' is around 40 cms long. The fox is found throughout the UK. Their food consists mostly of rats, mice, voles and moles. In towns they will scavenge household scraps from gardens and dustbins. They are mostly nocturnal, but can sometimes be seen during the daytime. In the winter their fur coat becomes thicker to help insulate them from the cold weather. Mating occurs in late December, and this is the time of year when foxes are at their noisiest. After dusk the males emit a short loud bark, and the females answer with an eerie scream, which sounds frighteningly human.
Hedgehog - Erinaceus europaeus
The hedgehog is probably Britain's most unmistakeable and best-known mammal, but it is often not seen alive, being nocturnal in its habits. At dusk it can sometimes be heard as it forages in dense undergrowth. Parkland, hedgerows and suburban gardens are among the hedgehog's favourite habitats.
Stoat - Mustela erminea and Weasel Mustela nivalis
The two smallest British carnivores are most often seen when they are crossing a road or path. The stoat is the larger of the two, but females are smaller than males in both species and a female stoat is similar in size to a male weasel. Stoats and weasels are solitary, although it is not unusual to see a female on the move with her youngsters. They are hunters and track down their prey mainly by scent and kill it with a neat bite to the back of the neck
Mink – mustela vison
Mink are a non-native mammal that have escaped from mink fur farms and naturalised in Britain. The presence of mink is given away by finding its five-toed footprint near water, and droppings of fishbones that smell unpleasant. The animal has chocolate-brown fur usually with a white patch on the chin, and a fairly bushy tail. Mink hunt on land in water, concentrating on whatever is abundant, especially fish, birds and mammals.
Grey Squirrel – Sciurus carolinensis
The body is approximately 25cms, with the tail adding another 20cms. Grey squirrels are found abundantly in woodland, parks and gardens.They eat mostly nuts and seeds. The front teeth of the grey squirrel are continually growing, and to prevent them getting too long, they need to constantly nibble on something to grind them down. The grey squirrel is a native of north-east America, and is recorded being found in the wild from 1876 onwards in Britain. They cause immense bark damage to many tree species including Hornbeam.
Badger – Meles meles
Badgers live in underground setts, the main setts of which are elaborate tunnel systems. A pile of soil outside the entrance is a good indication that a burrow has been excavated by badgers, although it may not currently be occupied. Unlike other members of the weasel family, badgers are social animals. The basic unit is the sow and her cubs, and there may be several breeding sows in a group, together with one or two adult boars. Badgers share one or more setts within a territory, which is defended occasionally by fighting but more often by regular patrolling the borders and using the prominent latrine pits as 'scent beacons'.
Other mammals found in Ruislip Woods include:
- Daubenton's bat - Myotis daubentonii
- Noctule bat - Nyctalus noctula
- Pipistrelle bat - Pipistrellus pipistrellus
- Rabbit - Oryctolagus cuniculus
- Common Shrew - Sorex araneus
- Mole - Talpa europaea
- Field vole or short-tailed vole - Microtus agrestis
- Muntjac deer - Muntiacus reevesi
- Mammals Trust UK
- The National Trust Book of British Wild Animals, edited by J. A. Burton, 1984
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