Wednesday last week I was invited to join our ecologists carry out some dormouse box checks across two reserves in the centre of the county. Last time we checked them here we found 8 Dormice so expectations were running high.
Apart from one possible dormouse nest we found little evidence of Dormouse activity at our first reserve. They have been found in the past at this location but they proved allusive on this check. Woodmice were not quite as allusive though; we found lots of woodmice adults, nests and nut caches.
Once you get your eye in you can spot a Dormouse nest from a Woodmouse nest. Woodmice will use dead, dry leaves, often laying them in the bottom of the nestbox while Dormice will create a tight intricate ball like nest from strips of bark or honeysuckle and use fresh green leaves.
At our second reserve we had more luck. We found 4 Dormice but again the Woodmice outnumbered Dormice by a considerable margin. It wasn’t just mice we found in the nest boxes, we also found a Tree bumblebee nest and a wasp nest taking advantage of the favourable conditions inside the boxes.
All the Dormice we found we weighed and sexed. This data goes into the national dormouse monitoring scheme which helps build up a picture of how this declining and extremely vulnerable small mammal is doing.
After the excitement of Dormice I was off to Farlington to talk cattle with some of our new cattle lookers. On the way back to building we spotted this exquisite Wasp spider hanging on the brambles next to the main track by the building.