Aston’s Eyot Mammal, Reptile & Amphibian list
(includes the Kidneys and Long Meadow)
LAND VERTEBRATES (except birds) – click here for a PDF
These animals are rarely seen at present, possibly reduced or made cautious by badgers
Grass Snake – Present in small numbers, but not often seen; young found in 2011; possibly some recent decline, as fewer sightings 2016-17 than in 2012-14.
Slow Worm – May still be present, last seen in 2011.
Common Frog – Abundant; breeds in the Shire Lake ditch on Aston’s Eyot and in the School Ditch on the Kidneys. In summer disperse through the vegetation but hard to see.
Common Toad – Common; details as for frog.
Smooth Newt – Small numbers live and breed in the ditches.
Great Crested Newt – Rare; occurs on Long Meadow and probably wanders onto Aston’s Eyot.
Both deer and badgers are relatively recent arrivals – most of the trees grew up before the deer arrived; nowadays all young trees have to have guards or they get eaten. Animals no longer present are given in italics.
Roe Deer – Present in small numbers (4-6 individuals), but wander about a lot, and swim freely to and fro across the Cherwell to Christ Church Meadow. First noted about 1999, having appeared on Iffley Meadows in 1991.
Muntjac – Present in enough numbers to create a browse line in ivy on trees, but solitary and hard to count; has a coarse bark, often heard in summer. Young ones seen regularly with adults; first appeared in the late 1980s.
Fox – Apparently some recent decline in the face of abundant badgers; best seen early in the morning as largely nocturnal, though they roam local streets and gardens at night; .
Badger – First appeared around 2005, and now numerous; mostly nocturnal, but some come out before dark if it is quiet. Now as likely to be seen in local streets and gardens at night as foxes.
Stoat – Only one recent record, in March 2017.
Weasel – Present but very rarely seen; two animals were seen fighting in the open on the cinder track in May 2017.
American Mink – These animals have quite large territories and may only be passing through; infrequently seen (once every 2 years or so), though shy.
Otter – Although widely reported on the Thames in recent years, there has been only one confirmed sighting on the Eyot – on the Cherwell in June 2017.
[domestic cats sometimes penetrate deep into the Eyot from nearby housing; no evidence of feral cats]
Hedgehog – recorded ca.2000, not reported recently, possibly due to badgers; still found in Iffley Fields gardens.
Common shrew – Common; not often seen, but squeaks can be picked up by bat detectors.
Pygmy shrew – recorded ca.2000, not reported recently, but probably still there
Mole – Abundant; molehills conspicuous in winter and spring; occasional dead animals found.
Rabbit – Resident; formerly abundant (in the 1980s), but has declined with the increase in nettles rising numbers of dogs, badgers, and foxes.
Hare – Recorded as recently as 2000, but no longer present
Bank Vole – Very common, usually seen fleeing mowing activity.
Short tailed or Field Vole – Fewer than Bank Vole as prefers grassy areas; occasionally seen and remains found in a discarded drinks tin in 2012.
Water Vole – Occurred in the past (1980s), no recent records, no doubt due to being eaten by mink, as elsewhere.
Wood Mouse – Abundant throughout, but rarely seen except by specific sampling with live-traps.
Brown Rat – Common, but rarely seen in daylight.
Grey Squirrel – Very common, conspicuous in trees in winter; sometimes strips bark from tree branches, particularly sycamore. Builds large untidy nests (‘dreys’) in trees.
Although bats are easily seen flying around at dusk, identification requires bat detectors that can analyse the ultrasound frequency of their echolocation calls.
Common Pipistrelle – Fewer than the next species, and generally keep further from the water.
Soprano Pipistrelle – Common, especially in areas with trees near the rivers.
Daubenton’s Bat – Sometimes detected over the Thames (2011, 2014).
Noctule – Sometimes detected over the Thames (2011); Britain’s biggest bat.
This is a work in progress, and we would welcome your records both old and new.
Roe deer (photo: Anthony Cheke)
Muntjac (photo: Anthony Cheke)
Fox (photo: Anthony Cheke)
Badgers (photo: camera trap)
American Mink (photo: Marian Pocock [on her phone])
Rabbit (photo: Anthony Cheke)
Grey Squirrel (photo: Anthony Cheke)