Sunday 8 February 2015

Dormouse Box Check and Clean

Moor Copse Dormouse Box: Check and Clean – 18th and 24th January 2015

Damian Carter (BMG Treasurer)

It was time for the dormouse boxes at Moor Copse nature reserve to be checked, cleaned and, in some cases, simply located. This being the first time I’d ever done this properly, I was expecting a pleasant walk through the nature reserve, clean out a few boxes and then wander home after a good bit of fresh air. Well I was mostly right.

The small group of us set out with bags of spare boxes, wire, cutters, “stuffers” Amanda provided us with, a couple of ‘outdoor’ marker pens and Liz with a map marking where all the boxes where. The idea being simply to clean out the boxes, while the dormice are hibernating at ground level, re-mark the fading numbers and replace any that were broken, or missing, and remount any that needed it.

Wandering through a wood looking for wood-en boxes, even with a marked up map, isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, especially when you have to remember to look behind you sometimes to see the ones that you’ve just walked right past! Sharp eyes and a good sense of direction come in very handy.

So, approaching the first box I find out what the “stuffers” are for: sticking in the hole to stop any residents from escaping before we’ve had a chance to properly read them their rights and evict them! After all these are dormice boxes, not wood mice, yellow-necked mice or pygmy shrew boxes, but I guess they can read the signs!

Yellow-necked Mouse

I was actually quite surprised at just how many of the boxes were in fact occupied. We took pity on the couple of wood mice families we found which still had large numbers of young in residence.

Pygmy Shrew

Wood Mouse

We had a complete range of box contents from old mice’ nests, filled with chewed nuts; birds’ nests; an incredibly tough, sticky and elastic hive-like nest (jury still out on what these were, caterpillar, bees nest?); through to completely empty – not even a leaf!

I managed to get a few photos but sadly, like so many others, my camera skills need improving so many came out complete blurs but here’s a few of the others. If anyone can identify what creature was responsible for the droppings in one of these it’d be interesting to know.

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