This land mammal identification course is an exciting opportunity to identify many British mammals through field signs, live-trapping and sightings.

This is a practical course made up of field and laboratory sessions designed to introduce a range of land mammal detection and identification skills (note: this course excludes bats). You will identify mammals by examining museum specimens, small mammal trapping, and utilising tracking techniques such as observing droppings, footprints, owl pellet analysis and feeding signs. You 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 and legislation associated with British land mammals.

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!

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 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

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.