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.

Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.

There are three booking options which all include course tuition, meals and refreshments *please see the ‘whats included’ section below for further details:

  • Non-Resident
  • Resident (Shared Room)
  • Resident (Sole Occupancy)

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

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

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

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.


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]g 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)

Tutor: Debbie Alston

Debbie Alston is an experienced natural history tutor and Lecturer at the University of Derby. She is the Chair and Recorder for the Derbyshire Mammal Group and co-author of the county atlas, The Mammals of Derbyshire. Debbie has taught many mammal courses for a variety of organisations including the Mammal Society, the Field Studies Council, Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and local Wildlife Trusts.

Example Timetable

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 onwards 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.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Picnic Lunch

What’s included?

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which we are renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • All meals provided

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing this course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

For course bookings including full board accommodation, please note bathroom facilities maybe be shared

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.