Recording mammals at Sheskinmore and the surrounding area now has a baseline dataset thanks to the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Atlas of Mammals in Ireland 2010-2015. It was a collaboration with inputs from many organizations and individuals, including citizen scientists. Over a quarter of a million records were submitted by 2,400 recorders.
The distribution of 72 species is described in the atlas. Thirty three of these are terrestrial species. Since the 18th Century nine new species have arrived in Ireland, more new arrivals than in the previous 10,000 years. Twenty one of the terrestrial species occur in Donegal and 13 are recorded in the two ten kilometre squares that cover Sheskinmore, G6090 and G7090.
The 13 species recorded in the Ardara, Naran, Portnoo area are;
- Red deer
- American mink
- Irish stoat
- Pine marten
- Red fox
- Pygmy shrew
- Irish hare
- Red squirrel
- Soprano pipistrelle
- Daubentons bat
The nine highlighted species have been recorded at Sheskinmore.
Two things about the records are noteworthy. The first is the good news about Red squirrel and pine marten. These two species were not recorded in this area before 2010 and both are enjoying a national population increase.
What else is conspicuous by its absence is the fact that there are no records for the area of Brown rat, House mouse or Field mouse. These species are under-recorded nationally. Their presence/ absence isn’t considered noteworthy because we all under value their significance. The atlas describes the Wood mouse as ‘probably the most important mammal in the Irish countryside due to its ubiquity and pivotal role in the terrestrial ecosystem’. Like the Brown rat and house mouse they are important prey species and the inappropriate use of rodenticides has a proven negative effect on many of their predator species.
Another absentee from this area is the hedgehog.This is a species that you would expect to see at least as road kill if it were living in the Ardara area. The atlas comments on the fact that there is not much research on hedgehogs and their population is unknown. Although Irish stoat is recorded from one of the 10 km square’s for this area, they have not been recorded at Sheskinmore, where one would expect to see them from time to time.
The most commonly seen species at Sheskinmore are the Fox, Badger, Mink and Rabbit. Surprisingly, Rabbit are not well researched but the population is considered to be stable with natural fluctuations. Rabbit population fluctuations are familiar to anyone who has visited Sheskinmore over the years. Fox and mink are both controlled at Sheskinmore due to the threat they pose to ground nesting birds such as Lapwing and Snipe.
Badger setts can be seen in several locations around Sheskinmore. In 2016 an Irish film company spent several weeks trying to capture badger activity at these setts. The fruits of their labours can be seen on TG4 next Wednesday 08.03.2017 at 21.30 Éire Fhiáin- An Cósta Thiar Wild Ireland – The West Coast. The same series will be broadcast on BBC at a future date.
The NBDC accepts records on their website Biodivesity Ireland for a wide variety of wildlife . There are several ongoing surveys to take part in, including a current Spring Flower Survey. Friends of Sheskinmore would love you to share any mammal records you have for this area. We are compiling a comprehensive species dataset for this website.