Mammals at Woolston Eyes

The mammals recorded on the Reserve all belong to the sub class Eutheria - Placental mammals and belong to the orders;

  • Rodentia - rats, mice, squirrels etc.
  • Lagomorpha - rabbits, hares etc.
  • Insectivora - insect eaters, hedgehogs, moles, etc.
  • Soricomorpha - Shrew forms
  • Chiroptera - bats …..Click here to review a Bat survey undertaken in 2007
  • Carnivora - carnivores, dog-like, foxes, weasels, stoats, badgers etc.

Those species recorded at Woolston Eyes are identified below;

Click here to view a list of mammals recorded at Wooslton


Andy Weir

01 Bank Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Species: Clethrionomys glareolus

First recorded in the 1982 study of the prey of Short-eared Owl by examination of their pellets. The species is around 83 to 121mm body length with a tail of 38 to 76mm, half as long as the body. Their weight is around 15 to 36g. It differs from the similar species Short-tailed or Field Vole by larger ears, longer tail and reddish-brown fur.

Photograph from No3 bed 5th June 2018 by Andy Weir

02 Field Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Species: Microtus agrestis

This small vole also known as, Short-tailed Vole, was first officially noted as present in 1979 and breeding has been confirmed during the 1980 Warrington New Town Ecological Survey of 1980. Mouse like but with a blunter nose the Field Vole is very similar to the Bank Vole but the fur is yellow-brown to greyish in colour, its tail is shorter, roughly 1/3rd of its body length, compare Bank Vole. Active during day and at night.

Photograph no Woolston image available.

03 Water Vole

Order: Rodentia Family: Cricetidae Species: Arvicola terrestris

Known also as the Water Rat, although similar looking at first glance they are distinguished from rats by the rounder noses, short stubby ears, chubby not sleek appearance and fleshy parts covered with hair - ears, tail and paws.

Photograph no Woolston image available.


John Blundell

04 Wood Mouse

Order: Rodentia Family: Muridae Species: Apodemus sylvaticus

The best chance of seeing Wood Mouse (also known as Field Mouse) is around the hides on No3 Bed and particularly the feeding stations foraging for spilt seed. Wood Mouse have large ears (compared to the common house mouse) and long tails, roughly the same as the body length.

Photograph of Wood Mouse found in a Blue Tit nest box 18th April 2018 on No.1 Bed by John Blundell

05 Brown rat

Order: Rodentia Family: Muridae Species: Rodentia norvegicus

The best chance of seeing Brown Rat is foraging under the bird feeders on No3 Bed.

Photograph no Woolston image available

06 Dormouse

Order: Rodentia Family: Gliridae Species: Muscardinus avellanarius

The only record of this rodent is referenced in the 1980 Warrington New Town Ecological Survey by K Dunne, R Barber and H Fisher, which is copied at the end of this mammalia section.

Photograph no Woolston image available.


Dave Bowman

07 Grey Squirrel

Order: Rodentia Family: Sciuridae Species: Sciurus carolinensis

Grey Squirrels numbers have increased dramatically on the Reserve and surronds in recent years and sightings have moved from occasional to common.

Photograph form No3 bed 26th January 2013 by David Bowman

08 Brown Hare

Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae Species: Lepus europarus

One of the largest members of the lagomorpha, the body length of 480 to 750mm and weight of 2.5 to 7kg bears testament to that status. Unmistakable long hind legs and ears with characteristic black patches viewed from the back. Record date back to early years when grassland was much more extensive across the Eyes.

Photograph no Woolston image available


Hazel Rothwell

09 Rabbit

Order: Lagomorpha Family: Leporidae Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus

Rabbits are extremely common on the reserve particularly on the sandier banks and dense bramble cover along the Ship Canal track and boundaries of the four beds.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 31st May 2017 by Hazel Rothwell

10 Hedgehog

Order: Insectivora Family: Erinaceomorpha Species: Erinaceus europaeus

Our only member of the ‘spiny’ mammal family and are unlike any other UK mammal thus being recognised by all. Generally nocturnal in habit, their main predator is the badger. Few reports of hedgehog sightings are submitted.

Photograph no Woolston image available.


Chris Monks

11 Mole

Order: Insectivora Family: Soricomorpha Species: Talpa europaea

Generally subterranean the ‘molehills’ (spoil from their tunnels) are the first sign of their presence which are evident on the reserve.

Photograph from No.3 Bed 16th March 2016 by Chris Monks


Hazel Rothwell

12 Common Shrew

Order: Soricomorpha Family: Soricidae Species: _Soricidae

At 75mm (3 inches) this species is difficult to spot and is often only seen crossing a pathway or deceased on a pathway although active day and night. It is one of the most common Shrew on the Reserve and an important food prey for the carnivorous mammals, Kestrel and Owls. It is identified by the species tri-colouration, dark on top shading to brownish grey then white underneath.

Photograph although of a dead specimen illustrates the characteristics, from No.3 Bed 22nd June 2016 by Hazel Rothwell

13 Pygmy Shrew

Order: Soricomorpha Family: Soricidae Species: Sorex minutus

At 50mm (2 inches) this is 2/3rds the size of the Common Shrew and although common is seldom seen, although active during the day and night. It is distinguished from the similar Common Shrew by its bi-colour coat, brownish grey on top and whitish beneath. Common Shrew exhibits tri-colouration, dark on top shading to brownish grey then white underneath.

Photograph no Woolston image available

14 Daubenton's Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Myotis daubentoniid

Bats are naturally very difficult to observe and identification is generally obtained from studies of the echolocation frequencies individual species use. Daubenton’s Bat call frequencies range from 32 to 85kHz but typical calls peak at 45 to 50kHz.

This species is associated with water, preferring woodland habitat, bridges, buildings etc. adjacent to water. Daubenton’s is a medium to small bat being 45 to 55mm with a wing span of 240mm to 275mm and a weight between 7g and 15g.

Photograph no Woolston image available.

15 Common Noctule Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Nyctalus noctule

Common Noctules have two common calls the frequencies of the first range from 26 to 47kHz, most energy being at 27kHz and last for 11.5ms. The second call frequency is 22 to 33kHz, having most energy at 22kHz and having most energy at 22kHz and a typical duration of 13.8ms.

This species prefers wooded areas and typically flies above and around the canopy. The Common Noctule is a large bat being typically 80mm with a wing span of 350mm.

Photograph no Woolston image available.

16 Common Pipistrelle Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Pipistrellus pipistrellus

The Common Pipestrelle is the smallest bat in Europe being 45 to 55mm with a wing span of 180mm to 250mm and a weight between 3.5g and 8.5g. It is very common on and around the Reserve and can be encountered feeding on small insects at dusk and dawn along tree lines and clearings.

Common Pipistrelle Bat call frequencies range from 45 to 76kHz, have most energy at 47kHz and last for 5.6ms.

Photograph no Woolston image available

17 Soprano Pipistrelle Bat

Order: Laurasiatheria Family: Chiroptera Species: Pipistrellus pygmaeus

The Soprano Pipestrelle was only separated from the Common Pipistrelle Bat in 1999 which it closely resembles in all aspects (see Common Pipistrelle above) other than echolocation frequencies.

Soprano Pipistrelle call frequencies range from 53 to 86kHz, have most energy at 55kHz and last for 5.8ms.

Photograph no Woolston image available

18 Roe Deer

Order: Cetartiodactyla Family: Capreolus Species: Capreolus capreolus

Our most widespread native deer who do not form herds but live generally as solitary individuals or small family groups. A relatively small deer standing around 100cm at the shoulder and is generally reddish brown in colour, more so in the summer months, and a white tail patch. Only the male carries antlers which are short, even in older bucks are only around 200mm long and generally only developing two or three points. Roe Deer are accidental visitors to the Reserve, not resident and infrequently seen.

Photograph no Woolston image available.


David Spencer

19 Fox

Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Species: Vulpa vulpa

Largely nocturnal but can be sighted anywhere on the Reserve especially during the breeding season when feeding young.

Photograph from No3 Bed 4th May 2016 by David Spencer


David Bowman

20 Grey Seal

Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Species: Halichoerus grypus

A recent times visitor to the River Mersey and Woolston Eyes edges following improvement in the water quality. One spent some time in the River Mersey adjacent to the northern edges of No.4 and No.3 Beds in the spring of 2000. Another seal was located on nearby Howley Weir in 2012. It is thought these seals follow the first salmon runs into the river from Liverool Bay.

Photograph from north bank No.3 Bed 05/01/2016

21 Stoat

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela erminea

Very similar to the Weasel but larger and has a black tip to the tail. Ermine is the name given to Stoat in the characteristc white winter coat.

Photograph no Woolston image available

22 Weasel

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela nivalis

This secretive mammal is infrequently recorded on the Reserve. The Weasel is smaller than the related Stoat and is the one without the black tip to the tail.

Photograph no Woolston photograph is available


Brian Gort

23 Otter

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Lutra lutra

The first record of Otter was of one seen and photographed on the old river under the footbridge to No.3 Bed on 3rd September 2014. Other records follow of sightings in the adjacent River Mersey and inside No3 bed on the main shallow flooded lagoon.

Photograph from Woolston No.3 Bed by Brian Gort


Jean Hood

24 Badger

Order: Canivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Meles meles

Badgers are nocturnal. Sightings on the Reserve are infrequent but the evidence of their existance is widespread and along the pathways in particular were their ‘grubbings’ for earthworms and larvae in the short grass can be seen daily. They are most frequently seen on No.3 Bed, walking along or crossing the paths and foraging under the feeders around the John Morgan Hide.

Photograph from No3 Bed 14th June 2019 by Jean Hood

25 American Mink

Order: Carnivora Family: Mustelidae Species: Mustela vison

Mink are now widespread in the UK and Woolston has maintained a popoulation for a number of years. Equally at home in the water as on land they are serious predators and pose a threat to our breeding birds, especially young and juvenile wildfowl.

Sightings on the Reserve are regular but infrequent.

Photograph no Woolston image available