Archive for December 2011

Iberian Lynx numbers increasing

December 28, 2011

Cornelis J. Hazevoet sent me a link to this article showing that Iberian Lynxes have more than tripled in number in the decade to 2011.

Obviously good news, but interesting too in that that species has been the focus of quite a lot of mammal ecotourism in recent years. Tourism that has both generated revenue for the local community in Andalucia (and so helped protect the Lynx at least indirectly) but also caused disturbance to the animals.


Authoritative mammal checklist?

December 28, 2011

What are people’s choices for the authoritative mammal checklist for the world? There are several on the internet including Wilson and Reeder’s and the IUCN. They differ though. I tend to use the latter but is there a gold standard? And is there a gold standard for birding, or do listers just use their favourites?


New Trip Report – Vietnam

December 27, 2011

I spent 2 weeks in Vietnam earlier this month. Despite crappy weather I saw over 30 species including all three Doucs, Silvered Langurs, Buff-cheeked Gibbons and a Large-toothed Ferret Badger. A report is here –

Happy christmas and good luck for 2012


Field Guide or other mammal books for Jalisco province, Mexico

December 22, 2011

Hello, I am just back from Vietnam after a very wet but surprisingly successful trip – over 30 species in 2 weeks including all three Doucs. I am thinking about going to the Cuixmala reserve in Central-western Mexico in January but cannot find any field guides or much information about the region. Does anyone know of any books or useful material I can look at to help me make up my mind and identify anything I see if I go!

Happy Christmas!


New Trip Report -Tuscany and the Ebro Valley, Spain

December 7, 2011

I was in Europe for a the last two weeks of October. I was with my kids so wasn’t doing a whole lot of mammal watching, but I did do a little in Spain and Tuscany.

The Ebro Valley

Ebro Valley

I’d visited Hiumaa Island in Estonia twice looking for – and failing to see – European Mink. I missed the Mink but the contacts I made there were kind enough to arrange for me to tag along in October 2011 for some trapping in Spain that was part of a conservation project. Not only were Mink possible but so were Pyrenean Desman, some parallel trapping was underway for that species too which was high on my most wanted list. The scientists working on both highly endangered species are understandably sensitive about me giving too many details about where I saw them so this is just a brief report.

Pyrenean Desman

I’d planned to arrive in the valley on a Saturday after driving from the South of France. Unfortunately the Friday was the last night of Desman trapping . So….. I left Paris at lunchtime, took a train to the south of France, collected my kids after school and then drove the 7 hours to my friends’ house. They were kind enough to let us stay at their place and also for me to leave the kids there. I arrived at 1am, put the kids to bed, grabbed 20 minutes’ sleep and drove an hour into the mountains.

They were checking the Desman traps every 3 hours. They had caught nothing at midnight but amazingly there was an animal in the first trap we checked at 3am. What a fantastic critter. After a brief photo opportunity, and a DNA sample, it was released and swam at impressive speed down the stream. By 5am I was driving back to get some sleep stopping briefly to look at a Beech Marten.

They caught a second animal later that night.

Pyrennean Desman

The Ebro valley is dry, full of vineyards and surrounded by mountains. The mountains form a barrier to incoming American Mink, which is probably why the area is a last stronghold of European Minks. Unfortunately American Minks are starting to arrive and one has to wonder how long the couple of hundred European Minks left here have left.
We spent Sunday morning checking the 39 traps that had been put out. A few animals had been caught over the past 10 days (the success rate there is something like 1 animal per 100 trap nights) and there was just one in a trap that day. A beautiful animal with a very bleak future.

European Mink


In Italy I spent a couple of nights in rural Tuscany near Certaldo where I hoped to see a Crested Porcupine. Although they are a common sight in the summer I think October is a little too late to see them often and I didn’t. A Coypu – out in the middle of a ploughed field – caused a flutter of excitement though.


While spotlighting around the back roads at night I did see a Wild Cat, a couple of Red Foxes, a Wild Boar and several Hares and Roe Deer.


New Trip Report – Uganda

December 5, 2011

Trevor Hardaker’s report of a great trip to Uganda with excellent pictures is now linked to

His report is on his own site here. Over 50 species including Gorillas and Chimpanzees, Peter’s Duiker, a Western Tree Hyrax and a Bunyoro Rabbit.


Help required with some mammal ID’s

December 5, 2011

Since as I am on a role with posting here, I thought I may as well put out another couple of questions. Both relate to unidentified mammals from some of my previous trips and if anyone has any suggestions of people I may be able to contact who could possibly assist with the ID’s of these animals, it would be greatly appreciated.

The first one was a bat that we saw in Hanoi in Vietnam. I managed to get some really bad photos of it too, although I’m not sure how useful they are going to be for the ID. From what I could see, they appeared to possibly be some sort of Round-leaf Bat species and we saw loads of them flying around at Hoan Kiem Lake in the city one evening. They all appeared to be the same species and were very numerous, so I’m wondering if anyone knows whether there is a particular species known from this area or not…? Perhaps I am just clutching at straws here and the species will remain forever unresolved…:)

The second one is a mouse photographed in Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda. I am hoping that someone might have contact details for a small mammal specialist in this area who may be able to assist or alternatively, know where I might be able to get a comprehensive checklist of the mammals of this area to be able to see what the possibilities are? Again, this might just be a straw clutching exercise…:)

Thanks again in advance.