Volunteers with Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Catch My Drift project at East Chevington have been using trail cameras at various points on the site to identify and monitor some of its more elusive residents including otters, foxes and red squirrels.
The cameras have also helped the team identify the presence of the invasive signal crayfish, which was introduced from North America. It out competes our native white-clawed crayfish and spreads crayfish plague, a fungus-like disease.
The Project, funded by players of the National Lottery via a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working to improve the land and habitat for people and wildlife on its 185-hectare East Chevington nature reserve. It is titled ‘Catch my Drift’ as a nod to the reserve’s history as it was once the East Chevington Drift Mine (1882 - 1962) and East Chevington Opencast Coal Site from 1982 - 1994.
The footage collected will allow Catch My Drift project leader Sophie Webster to gain an understanding of how these animals are using the site, which will, in turn, help her develop an overall management plan for the site.
As well as using the standard method of attaching cameras close to animal tracks, the team, led by Sophie, has been installing small mammal camera boxes which have allowed them to monitor their presence during winter when they cannot carry out live humane survey trapping to help them identify key areas where birds of prey may feed and which species they may be feeding on.