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Girton's wild animals!

Night vision black and white image of a badger emerging from its sett in Girton College grounds

The Girton College Natural Sciences Society discovers what wild animals reside in the grounds of the College, inspired by Official Fellow and Zoologist, Dr Arik Kershenbaum who has been monitoring wildlife here using camera traps.

The Girton College Natural Sciences Society is a student-led initiative, aiming to foster engagement with the Natural Sciences. The group has held various events to bring together people both with and without a background in science. These include a tour of the University Herbarium, social events and guidance sessions. Most recently the group has been using trail cameras to monitor wildlife around the College.

Girton Fellow and Zoologist, Dr Arik Kershenbaum, has been monitoring wildlife around the Girton site. Members of the Society followed in his footsteps, using camera traps that automatically photograph and record a short video of wildlife upon detecting motion. This work offers members of the College the opportunity to find out more about the abundance and behaviour of the animals around the grounds and to engage with the wildlife around them. For Society members hoping to pursue a career in animal or ecological research, this project has provided a valuable opportunity to learn a skill that is commonly used in field work.

The Society decided to host an afternoon introductory session to camera trapping, starting with a presentation, followed by a group discussion with Dr Kershenbaum about what camera traps are used for in research. This was followed by a demonstration of how to set up and use the cameras. They then headed out into the grounds and set up three camera traps, well away from footpaths, where there had been reports and, in certain instances, evidence of animal activity. Six days later they took the camera traps inside and downloaded the footage. 

Next term the Society plans to go through the footage more thoroughly to investigate the animals captured in the videos. However, preliminary exploration of the videos has revealed, a very active badger sett and an abundance of local wildlife such as mice, songbirds, rabbits and foxes. The grounds around Girton offer a valuable habitat to local wildlife and an invaluable opportunity for our community to engage with nature, right on our doorstep. 

Written by Clemmie Ramsay and Catriona Forrest, Co-Presidents of the Girton College Natural Sciences Society.