MAMMALS will reveal its presence in all the rural dis- tricts, and that, although we have but few specific records of its occurrence, it is fairly common on all likely waters. Jenyns, in his Manual of British Vertebrate Animals (1835), mentions under the name of ' oared shrew ' (a well-known variety of the water shrew, believed for a long time to have specific dis- tinction) the occurrence of this species in Surrey (q.v. p. 18). Brewer includes it in his Reigate list of mammals (Flora of Reigate, 1856), and Smee in 1872, writing of the Wandle, says : ' We occasionally see it here . . . but it is very shy . . .' (My Garden, pp. 520, 521). We have also notes of its occurrence within quite recent years from the Lade Brook near Redhill (Gough in lit.), Chobham (Le Marchant in lit.), the Wey near Guildford (Latter in lit.), Reigate (Reeves in lit.), and Headley (Buck- nill), and when more attention is paid to the mammals of the county, it will be no doubt found to be much more common than it at present appears to be. CARNIVORA 15. Wild Cat. Fills catus, Linn. Almost, if not completely, extinct in Eng- land, at the present day there is, as far as we can ascertain, only one record of the occurrence of this species in Surrey in which any sort of claim can be made to a genuinely feral origin. In the Letters of Rusticus (pp. 5, 6) a long account is given by the late Mr. Edward Newman of the trapping of a specimen of the true Felts catus by one Chalcraft, keeper to a Mr. Mellersh of Godalming. The exact spot where it was taken was a wood sur- rounding Mr. Mellersh's seat, known as ' Blunden's,' a place situated a little south of the town. The skin alone was preserved, in the form of a cap, the local taxidermist, Mr. Waring Kidd, being too unwell at the time to set up the animal. The occurrence was shortly noticed in the Zoologist, 1849, p. 2,439, and that year was the date in which the Letters of Rusticus were published, but the account refers to a considerably earlier period, probably to the early twenties. 1 As Mr. Newman was a very able and accomplished naturalist, and draws a long and careful contrast between this specimen and the 'outlying tabby,' it is probable that the record may be considered an authentic one, particularly as the story carries us back to times when the country round Godalming was almost terra incognita. 1 6. Fox. Vulpes vulpes, Linn. Bell Vulpei vulgaris. Still common enough in the rural districts, but becoming quite scarce in the neighbour- hood of the suburban areas. Even in the country it is, owing to the great increase of close game preservation, much less abundant than it was thirty or forty years ago. A curious litter of cubs was reared near Farn- 1 Cobbett believed that he saw the true wild cat near Waverley. Date uncertain, but before the Blunden specimen (Rural Rides, p. 279). ham in 1896, in which the heads were per- fectly white and the bodies marked with white spots (Field, August 8, 1896). 17. Pine Marten. Mustela martes, Linn. Bell Martes abietum. This species has long been extinct in Surrey, and very few records of its occurrence in the county are in existence. In May, 1834, one was caught in Richmond Park by Thomas Neal, an underkeeper employed by Mr. J. Sawyer. It was recorded in the Field, March 10, 1860. Mr. H. Sawyer informs us that the species was not uncommon in the park sixty or more years ago, but has now long disappeared (in lit.). At a meeting of the Surrey Natural History Society, held at the Museum, Guildford, June 3, 1847, Mr. R. A. Austen, one of the vice-presidents, announced that a marten had been recently caught in a wood near Blackheath, Albury, by Mr. Bray of Shere (Zoologist, 1847, p. 1,806). Both these specimens are referred to by Mr. Hart- ing in his paper on this species published in the Zoologist, 1891, p. 157. The marten is included by Brewer in his Reigate list with- out remark (Flora of Reigate, 1856). On May 12, 1879, Mr. G. E. Lodge observed a specimen in a large wood known as the Redlands Wood near Holmwood and Dork- ing. This wood is of several hundred acres in extent, composed chiefly of Scotch, spruce, silver and larch firs, oak, Spanish chestnut and beech, and is very wild, so that the locality is suitable for the occurrence. 8 Mr. Lodge says (in lit.) that he had an excellent view of the animal, which appeared to be chasing a rabbit. A full note of this story appears in the Zoologist, 1892, p. 190. We have no further notes of the local ap- pearance of this species. 2 A great part of Redlands is not suitable for pheasants, and so not strictly preserved. The same or another specimen was seen close to Red- lands by Mrs. H. E. Maiden shortly after 1879. 221
Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/263
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.