of the Welsh Harp by Andrew Self
(From the book 'The Birds of Brent Reservoir')
In order to ascertain the status of the mammals at the reservoir a survey was carried out in 1995 (Herbert). This along with personal observations from several regular watchers at the site has been used to give a brief summary of the mammals of the Welsh Harp.
A common mammal at the reservoir but rarely noted due to its nocturnal habits. The remains of one that had been eaten by gypsies was found when there was an encampment at the Northern end of the reservoir in the late 1980s (J. Colmans pers ob). Two road casualties were found on Cool Oak Lane on 7th May 1995.
Although rarely seen, its presence is betrayed by the molehills that can be found among the grassy areas around the reservoir, eg at least 10+ fresh hills were located around the perimeter of the sports pitches on Neasden Recreation Ground in 1995 (Herbert). With the occasional dead one that is found these sightings point to it being fairly common although they are never recorded on the largest expanse of open grassland at the West Hendon Playing Fields which may well be due to the underlying substrate being dumped material unsuitable for burrowing.
|Common Shrew Sorex
Out of all of the small mammals at Brent, this species is the most likeliest dead specimen to be found.
|Water Shrew Neomys
One was seen on 23rd October 1995 by the cycle track in the Northern Marsh (Herbert). It was considered to be in atypical surroundings so its actual status at Brent cannot be confirmed although it was recorded on the canal behind the dam in the 1960s (per Batten).
|Daubenton's Bat Myotis
The only record of this species is from September 1937 when a group of 12 was seen, one of which hit a martin species and fell into the water (Fitter). Not recorded when bat detectors were used in 1978 and again in 1985/86 and 1995.
|Noctule Bat Nyctalus
Recorded twice during the 1995 Bat Survey. Both appearances were after dark and both individuals left the area quickly so it was considered that they do not roost locally and that the area only constitutes a minor foraging area (Herbert). One was recorded feeding over the open water. Additionally, one was seen flying over the Northern reservoir in the evening of September 8th 1960 with two smaller bats.
All individuals located in the Bat Survey were of the 55 kHz genotype. Fairly common and widespread around the reservoir. The largest number recorded together was at least eight immediately North of Cool Oak Lane Bridge. No roost sites were found but the appearance of several at dusk around the Field Centre is suggestive of a nearby roost.
|Whiskered Bat Myotis
There is one old record from Hendon (Fitter) that may be within our recording area.
Recorded from four separate areas in 1995 (Herbert).
|Field Vole Microtus
The small rodent most often seen or heard around the reservoir. The large expanses of unmown grassy areas near the dam and by the Northern Marsh as well as areas like the disused allotments provide a perfect habitat for these voles. Their abundance also attracts predators such as Kestrels and owls, indeed when the pellets from the over-wintering Long-eared Owls were examined they were found to exclusively contain the remains of this species (A.Self, pers ob).
|Wood Mouse Apodemus
The only species trapped in all five transects in the 1995 Mammal Survey (Herbert).
|House Mouse Mus
This species was not recorded in the 1995 Mammal Survey as the traps were mainly laid out around the 'wilder' areas of the reservoir. It is undoubtedly present within the recording area, probably in many of the houses and sheds as well as many of the factories bordering the Eastern Marsh.
|Grey Squirrel Sciurus
carolensis The most commonly observed mammal at the reservoir. This
species is recorded from all areas of the reservoir from the woodlands to back
gardens where it can regularly be seen raiding bird tables in the winter.
|Common Rat Rattus
Widespread at the reservoir it is most often observed near the bridge on Cool Oak Lane feeding on scraps that visitors have left out for the birds.
|Fox Vulpes vulpes
Regularly seen around the reservoir even during the day time. There are territories in East Marsh, North Marsh and the Field Centre and possibly elsewhere. They have often been seen from the hides as they walk through the reed bed and have been known to take ducks and feral geese as well as Moorhen eggs although these observations represent just a fraction of their actual diet.
No longer present at the reservoir, this species was last known to have occurred in the 1960s, although it was only occasionally seen.
Like the preceding species, Weasels are no longer reported at Brent although their smaller size could mean that they are still over-looked. The latest records are from the 1970s when they were not infrequently seen (L. Batten, pers ob)
One or two have been reported although no precise details are known (Creasy).
Creasey, P. (1987) Mammals of the Reservoir. Welsh Harp Report
Fitter, R.S.R. (1949) A Check-list of the mammals, reptiles
and amphibia of the London Area:
1900-1949. London Naturalist 28: 98-115. Herbert, C. (1995) Bat Survey Report: Brent Reservoir (Welsh Harp) Herbert, C. (1995) Small Mammal Survey Report: Brent Reservoir (Welsh Harp)
© Brad Charteris