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Road Kill

I doubt if many motorists ever notice the sorry little corpses that are to be found along our roads. Unless the animal concerned is quite large I don’t suppose that they even know that they have hit something. To a cyclist , however, their sorry remains are all too obvious. We are less than 2 weeks into 2013 and already I have cycled past 3 dead badgers, a hare and a red squirrel. Last year I decided to keep a record of dead birds and animals seen while out cycling. It makes grim reading.

Badger

Top of the road casualty list

I quickly gave up trying to count the number of dead rabbits and pheasants that I saw – they are just too numerous. On every ride I would expect to see at least 3 dead rabbits and 2 or 3 pheasants. I tend only to cycle on the quieter roads on the island so I would imagine that the tally on the major roads would be much higher. The Isle of Wight has no deer or grey squirrels and there are very few hedgehogs so hedgehog casualty figures are lower than you might expect.

Blackbird

Leading the bird casualties

RED SQUIRREL

7 red squirrel casualties last year

Mammals

  • 19 Badgers
  • 18 Rats
  • 9 Stoats
  • 8 Foxes
  • 7 Red Squirrels
  • 4 Hedgehogs
  • 2 Hares
  • 2 Domestic Cats
  • 1 Mole

Reptiles/Amphibians

  • 6 Slow Worms
  • 5 Frogs

Birds

  • 31 Blackbirds
  • 26 Woodpigeons
  • 7 Carrion Crows
  • 6 Robins
  • 6 House Sparrows
  • 5 Chaffinches
  • 4 Mallards
  • 3 Red Legged Partridges
  • 3 Magpies
  • 2 Blue Tits
  • 2 Goldfinches
  • 2 Jays
  • 2 Moorhens
  • 1 Herring Gull
  • 1 Dunnock
  • 1 Rook
  • 1 Yellowhammer
  • 1 Green Woodpecker
  • 1 Greenfinch
  • 1 Whitethroat
  • 1 Wren
  • 1 Jackdaw
  • 1 Redwing
  • 1 Kestrel
  • 17 too flat to identify!

Its quite a long list! Some species have habits that make them particularly vulnerable. Hedgehogs are an obvious one. Blackbirds tend to fly low when leaving a hedge – straight in front of a passing car. Woodpigeons need to ingest grit to grind food in their gizzard. They tend to collect this at the side of the road and get squashed in the process. Carrion feeders such as crows and magpies are apt to become casualties themselves while feeding on roadkill rabbits. I was surprised by the number of dead rats I recorded but the vast majority of these were seen during hay making when they had obviously left the fields.

The majority of small bird deaths are probably unavoidable but I think high speeds and lack of attention account for most of the mammal deaths. 19 badgers is an awful lot!

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