Mammals at Cabilla and Redrice Woods
Mammals have been very much in the news of late, with fresh talk of sightings of the legendary "Beast of Bodmin Moor" in mid-Cornwall. Many people dismiss the idea of a big cat roaming the Cornish countryside out of hand. Surely, the argument goes, if such an animal existed in our overcrowded islands, it would be seen much more frequently, photographed or even filmed.
But what of our native mammals? There are thousands of badgers in Cornwall, but when did you last see one (other than as a road casualty)? Likewise, if asked the nearest place to see red deer in the wild, what would you reply? Exmoor? The Quantocks? Yet this, our largest native land mammal, lives (and breeds) in the Glynn Valley!
For such a large animal the red deer can be surprisingly secretive, but at Cabilla and Redrice Woods signs of its presence are not hard to find. Deer tracks criss-cross the woods and it is not uncommon to see deer footprints or "slots", particularly where the animal has had to scramble up a bank or hedge.
For further evidence, look at the oak coppice. Many of the regrowing stems show signs of deer attack, with large strips of bark ripped off. Although a completely natural process , it shows how red deer can impact upon a woodland and why in some areas they can be unpopular with foresters. Our other native deer species, the roe deer, shares this woodland with the red and also breeds here.
The dormouse is also found at Cabilla and Redrice. These appealing little creatures are becoming increasingly scarce as their habitat of hazel coppice declines. At Cabilla and Redrice Woods though, they will flourish as selective coppicing is reinstated. Dormice take readily to nest boxes and these will be provided for them to breed and hibernate in.
Many other mammal species inhabit Cabilla and Redrice Woods. Fox, badger, stoat, weasel and hedgehog have all been seen. Evidence of otters has also been found, both on the River Fowey, which borders the reserve, and on streams flowing through it. Shy and retiring, these rare mammals are mainly nocturnal in Cornwall.
Several species of bat have been recorded on the reserve, including both greater and lesser horseshoe. Cornwall’s rich mining heritage assists these and other species, the old adits and shafts providing ideal sites for hibernation, roosting and possibly breeding.
So, from the smallest to the largest, Cabilla and Redrice Woods provides probably the largest diversity of mammals to be found anywhere in Cornwall. Why not come and have a look for yourself? You may not see the animals themselves, but the signs are there if you know where to look. With patience and a little luck, who knows what you might see?
A network of permissive paths (marked by green arrows) runs through the woods, giving access to visitors. Due to the sensitive nature of the site, dogs are permitted on the public footpath only (marked by yellow arrows) and must be kept on a lead at all times. Your co-operation in staying on these paths is appreciated. Thank you.