Monday 5 January 2015

Busy Times for Berks Dormice

©Rob Strachan WildCRU


Happy New Year Everyone!!

The dormouse is a small, nocturnal mammal weighing in at 30g. For a large part of the year (6 months or more), they hibernate in nests on or under the ground. Dormice spend most of their active time high off the ground in tree canopies and not just in hazel woods, they have been found in pine-dominated commercial forests and in people’s greenhouses and allotments!

Dormouse numbers are estimated to have halved in the last 100 years, with the majority of remaining populations occurring in southern England. The main reasons for this decline appear to be linked to the loss and fragmentation of ancient woodlands, reduction in woodland management practices and, more recently, climate change. Berkshire is just on the edge of this range with what appears to be a correlated lowering of numbers.
My name is Amanda Lloyd, I am a mammal ecologist and will be leading and organising the dormouse surveys in the coming months. Currently we have 4 sites with dormouse boxes in place, one site was checked in November for dormice and 3 nests were found in the boxes, which is great news and I am looking forward to finding the actual animal (maybe more than one!) in question in spring. 
This year the dormouse surveys (as part of the National DormouseMonitoring Programme) will truly commence but first we need to ascertain the state the boxes are in and repair any old un-useable ones. Thanks to membership fees we have been able to purchase 50 new shiny boxes that will be used to replace any old and worn-out boxes.

 Some of our new boxes

Photo: Amanda Lloyd

So as you can see busy times ahead and any help whether that be in the form of providing dormouse sightings or actively volunteering your time with box checks or “nut-hunts” is all appreciated and a nice way to spend a day out in the countryside! If you do want to get involved please email:
©Rob Strachan WildCRU

January 2015 Mammal of the Month - The Otter

Photo Credit: Becky Thomas

We're back after the festive break and very pleased to announce our first Mammal of the Month for 2015 - the otter. 


 Our top five facts for this often secretive species are:

• They can live up to 10 years in the wild
• Young are born in dens called holts and the mother looks after the cubs alone
• Otters can have large territories - up to 20 km of river!
• Their poo is called spraint - it smells sweet and musky and is often the only way you know that an otter is in the area.
• After almost disappearing from much of Britain in the last century they are now making an impressive come-back - BMG even has a record from very close to the Oracle Shopping Centre in the centre of Reading!!

 Find out more about the species on the Mammal Society's fact sheet and please record any sightings (of them or their signs) one our website