The Land Mammal Identification Course is an exciting opportunity to identify many British mammals through field signs, live-trapping and sightings.

The course is practically based with field and laboratory sessions designed to introduce a range of detection and identification skills. Please note this course does not look at bats. We will be identifying mammals by examination of museum specimens and small mammal trapping. The course will also include looking at species identification by droppings, footprints, owl pellet analysis and feeding signs. Students will gain an insight into recording exercises for mammals and will develop an understanding of aspects of mammal ecology and conservation and some of the licensing issues associated with British land mammals. The practical sessions we undertake are likely to mean long days with early mornings and late nights.

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The practical sessions undertaken are likely to mean long days with early mornings and late nights, but this also equals a unique opportunity to spend time immersed in the range of habitats surrounding the Preston Montford Centre where your course will take place!

What will be covered during this course?

  • The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work.
  • Identification and diagnostic features of UK mammals
  • Key texts and field guides for UK mammals
  • What makes a good site for mammals, and how management can improve populations or mitigate against declines
  • Legislation covering mammals, and their surveys
  • How understanding the behaviour and ecology of these species can help in field location and identification

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate survey techniques for British land mammal species, and identify a range of land mammal species using ecological information and key diagnostic features.
  • Assess a given site for conservation potential with relation to the ecology of British land mammal species.

Who Should Attend? –  Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, and environmental professionals. This intermediate level course is open to anyone with some knowledge of the subject. This course is for those aged 18 and over only.

Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following web-page:  Framework and Course Level Descriptors

There are two booking options which all include course tuition, meals and refreshments:

  • Non-Resident (Breakfast not included)
  • Resident (Sole Occupancy)

For course bookings including accommodation please note bathroom facilities may be shared.

MMU Student Information


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]

See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.


For Manchester Metropolitan University students, the Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment. In course tests are optional and less formal for participants who are not MMU students.

MMU students will be required to complete a portfolio comprising of two parts:

Part 1: Complete an identification assessment related to the identification of British land mammals OR construct a key to land mammals in your local region, and a key to field signs of these mammals. (Equivalent to 500 words)

Part 2: Carry out a survey of land mammals at a site of your choice, using recommended methods. Present the findings in a report which demonstrates your understanding of mammal survey techniques and ecology. (1500 words)

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give an outline of what to expect.
If you have booked accommodation with the Centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00 pm onward on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30 am on the morning of departure.
If numbers are sufficient a station pick up will be arranged at 5.30 pm from Shrewsbury Station.
Please arrive for the evening meal at 6.30 pm on Friday
The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30 pm - 9.00 pm
The course ends at 4.00 pm on the final day.

Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day.

Evening session on an introduction to British Mammals.

Breakfast at 8 am (for residents only).
Morning - session on small mammal identification and setting Longworth Traps.
Afternoon - session on identification of small mammals by signs.
Evening - session checking and resetting traps.

Checking and resetting traps before Breakfast (for residents only).
Morning - session on larger mammal identification.
Afternoon - session on larger mammal identification by signs and field practice around Preston Montford recording mammals.
Evening - session checking and resetting traps, possible badger watch and quiz.

Checking and collecting traps before breakfast (for residents only).
Morning - field visit to record mammals.
Afternoon - summary and assessment for those on the accredited programmes. Depart 16.00 pm.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Picnic Lunch
  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • All meals provided

Before You Attend

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can make any necessary adjustments.

What to Bring

The evenings will still be cool and participants should bring lots of warm clothing.

  • Wet weather clothing, including waterproof trousers.
  • Stout walking shoes/boots and/or wellingtons.
  • A4 clipboard will be useful.
  • A x10 hand-lens* and camera will also be useful.
  • Sandwich box and vacuum flask/drinks container.
  • Laptop/tablet if you want to access the resources materials in the evenings.
  • Small plastic bags or pots, if you want to start your own mammal droppings reference collection!
    * Available from the Centre Shop

Useful Books

  • Bang, P. & Dahlstrom, P. (1974) Collins Guide to Animal Tracks and Signs Collins, London UK.
  • Couzens,D., Swash, A., Still, R. & Dunn, J. (2017) Britain's Mammals: A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Ireland. Wild Guides Princeton University Press Oxford, UK.
  • Gurnell, J. and Flowerdew, J.R. (2006) Live Trapping Small Mammals: A Practical Guide 4th Edition. The Mammal Society. London, UK.
  • Harris S., and Yalden D.W., (eds) (2008). Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook, 4th Edition. The Mammal Society Southampton, UK.
  • Strachan,R. (1995) Mammal Detective. Whittet Books, Suffolk, UK.

Opportunities to attend this course

  • Fri 25, August 2023 18:30 - Mon 28, August 2023 16:00

    West Midlands
    £360 - £570
    Debbie Alston

Progress Your Learning

This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, delivered by expert tutors with an approachable learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of natural history. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our online portal gives you time to study at your own pace and fit the lessons around your own schedule.

If you have any questions about our online courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses. Find out more!

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be at your fingertips. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.