Polecats in Kent!
Volunteer warden and conservationist Tim Hewke monitors four sites across Kent; keeping his eyes, ears and few special camera traps on the comings and goings at the woods. Tim is collecting some marvellous footage of British wildlife displaying their natural behaviours within our woods.
Tim’s recent discovery, which has caused a stir with the team and our friends at Kent Mammal Group, was a video of a Polecat (Mustela Putorius). Tim was pleased to add another species to his monitoring list and is delighted to share his footage with the wider Woodland Trust family. The sighting has been submitted to the Kent Mammal Group for their records. An interesting Polecat Report 2016 from Vincent Wildlife Trust shows that East Kent may be a hotspot for polecats, and their range is increasing in the South East in general, though a large percentage of these are hybrid polecat-ferrets.
Tim started his role with the Trust a year ago, prior to that he worked at Greenpeace in London. His main interest is in surveying mammals, but he also records birds, butterflies and other invertebrates as he gains more knowledge and experience at each site – last year Tim recorded a record number of wood ant nests at Longbeech North.
Tim said: “I am very privileged to be able to put up cameras any where I want in the four sites I look after. I love coming across a new badger sett or seeing very new baby deer wander past. The cameras are very easy to use and for only £50 well worth an investment! ”
As well as camera monitoring, Tim has been meticulously recording live and disused badger setts at each site, which helps inform site harvesting works. The estate team maps the setts to ensure felling is prohibited around the area, with a large buffer zone, in accordance with the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 .
“Tim doesn’t just capture animal activity at our woods, he’s sadly also recorded people on site ripping up blankets of moss ready for autumn (ready for the making of Christmas wreaths!) and someone who had set up mammals traps in a wood. Tim has developed relationships with local police to help to try and deter issues which has helped to safeguard our special sites and their wildlife. Tim’s work is invaluable – it really enhances our understanding of our woods and how they can be benificial for key species, and this in turn directly informs our management planning. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and enthusiastic guardian of our woodland sites, and the team send him huge thanks for his time and efforts!” said our assistant site manager in Kent, Claire Inglis.