Our First Tunnel Survey

Berry Moor Farm

Silkstone Common Grid Square SE 29 03

Berry Moor - farmland

Over Easter weekend (3rd-7th April) we carried out the first tunnel survey as part of Hogwatch on Berry Moor Farm, Silkstone Common with permission of the owner. 

Berry Moor Farm is a former dairy farm with the entire area under permanent grass (apart from the farm yard and buildings) over 80 acres. It is currently rented out for cattle and sheep grazing and hay making. Field boundaries are dry stone walls, barbed wire and posts and hedgerows. The farm is bordered by roads on the east, and woodland in the south and north. The eastern side is currently under winter cereals. Previously the cereal fields were managed by Berry Moor Farm as permanent grassland (up until around 7 years ago).

Minimal pesticides have been used on the farm in recent years.

There is a healthy and stable population of badgers in the woodland. Roe deer, fox and brown hare are occasionally seen but the numbers of the latter two are well down on the early part of the century.

Berry Moor - field edgeTen tunnels were deployed evenly across a 500x500m square within the grid square and placed close to landscape features. such as hedges, woodland and dry stone walls.

The tunnels were baited with dog food and checked daily.

No hedgehogs were recorded during the survey. Bait was taken after two days in six of the ten tunnels. The foot prints indicated mice were eating the bait backed by the presence of dropping in some tunnels. In a few cases vole dropping were also present.

Berry Moor - hedgehog habitatThis appears to be a hedgehog friendly area with cover in the form of hedges and woodland close by. The presence of a significant mole population (based on the number of mole hills) suggest that earthworms are present in the soil. In close grazed field worm casts were frequently observed. This well grazed grassland with lots of worms should provide good foraging for hedgehogs. However, the owner has not seen a hedgehog for many years and this is backed by our tunnel results.

Conclusions

There is a 95% chance that there are no hedgehogs in this grid square survey. However it is too early to draw any conclusion about the possible reasons behind their absence.

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