Thursday, 31 January 2013

First Field Trip of the Year

On Saturday (26th Jan 2013) I met up with Martyn Parslow, Dave Monk, Heather Martin and Rod Taylor at Brede High Wood. After a year’s work and training at other sites Heather and Rod now have their dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) licence and this season they are monitoring the dormouse population in Brede High Wood.

Dave, Martyn and Rod inspect a nestbox; JB
Dave, Martin and I came along to assist. Our job was to help locate the nest-boxes and to clean them after inspection by Heather and /or Rod.
Gorse in bloom; JB
Fortunately the weather was very pleasant for January, as evidenced by this gorse (Ulex europaeus) in bloom, though it got noticeably colder as the sun started to set.

Martyn and Rod, precision cleaning; HM
Cleaning the nest-boxes requires some precision work.
Woodpecker evidence? ; HM
Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) were flying all about the wood as we worked, and we wondered if this was more evidence of their activity?

Dave and Jim nestbox cleaning; HM

Here Dave and I work as the “brushing out” and “drainage slot clearing” team.

Woodmouse DIY?; HM
 Here was an interesting observation. At the back of the dormouse nestbox (the entrance is at the back of the box and not at the front like a bird nestbox) and adjacent to the entrance, on the tree to which the nestbox is attached, quite a bit of chewing had been done.This particular nestbox showed no signs of dormouse occupation, so who had done the chewing and why?

Of the fifty-one nest boxes we inspected only two had clear evidence of dormouse occupation. A dormouse nest has a particular structure, compared to a wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) say, and those in the know can easily tell them apart.
Dormouse nest; JB
Dormouse nest; HM

King Alfred's Cakes; JB
 Among some other interesting observations in the winter woodland were these fungi known as King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica)

Brittle Cinder; JB
And this fungus which may be Brittle Cinder (Kretzschmaria deusta) growing on an upright dead tree trunk.

Green shoots; HM
However the most hopeful sign was the first sign of emerging spring plants breaking through the soil and leaf litter. A welcome reminder that Spring is on the way.

For more information about dormice, their conservation and ecology, click the link below;

The Dormouse Site

All photographs by Heather Martin (HM) and Jim Barrett (JB).

1 comment:

  1. Shame I missed it! We had some felling between a wood and a garden that we had to do...