The July monitoring results were significantly different between the two main sessions, Treswell versus Gamston & Eaton. On Saturday July 18th 2020, a small team of licenced handlers including myself (Lorna), Courtenay & Victoria, with our trusted sidekick Colin (unlicensed), headed to Treswell Wood.
Courtenay and myself ventured off alone, whilst Vicky and Colin worked as a team (whilst observing social distancing rules). Vicky has not learnt all of the woodland routes yet, so she was safely guided around the woodland by Colin, who also acted as her data assistant.
Unfortunately, no dormice were recorded in any of the dedicated dormouse nest-boxes. This is thought likely due to the large swathes of bramble scrub present within the woodland. At this time of year, the dormice will be feeding primarily on bramble flowers and the blackberries that are slowly starting to ripen. Along with providing a vital food source, the dense nature of the scrub also provides ideal wild nesting habitat and therefore it is likely that the Treswell dormice are going ‘au naturel’ at the moment.
The Gamston (with Silcock Wood) & Eaton Woodlands nest-box monitoring check was a entirely different affair, with a total of 31 dormice recorded (15 more than July 2019). Myself, Phil, Michael & Katie (assisted by Colin) ventured out into the woodlands on Saturday 25th July 2020. Michael & Phil concentrated on the Eaton Wood nest-boxes, I checked the Silcock nest-boxes (along with a couple of Gamston sections), whilst Katie & Colin checked the remaining Gamston Wood sections.
I must add that the mosquitoes were hell…the humid conditions had brought them out in swarms & they were all vying for our blood! Nevertheless, we recorded at least 5 dormouse litters, ages (age categories) ranged from ‘eyes closed’ (estimated 14 – 16 days old as they were very active), ‘eyes open’ (16 – 20 days old) & independent juveniles (20 – 28 days old). One nest-box contained 6 very curious in the ‘eyes open’ category (see video). Mum was not present in the box, and is likely to have been having ‘time out’ in a wild nearby nest.
We also recorded several adult males in prime breeding condition, & two pregnant females. One of which was already caring for a litter of juveniles on the brink of independence.
During the Eaton/Gamston check, I ventured out to check some nest-boxes that we had installed along the railway line, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a perfectly woven little dormouse nest in one of them. This is excellent news as it confirms that the dormice are dispersing along the railway bank, into the wider landscape. Our nest task is to install some more nest-boxes further south, as well as on the far side of the rail-tracks to try to determine just how far they have travelled.