Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Wednesday 20th.August 2008

Time again for the monthly Dormouse and Reptile survey , at two sites up on the Greensand Ridge , near Westerham .
If yesterday was a bad day for wildlife photography , solely because of the job in hand , then today was like winning the Olympics .
With the Warden , we set off to inspect 50 Dormouse boxes and 25 pairs of tin/felt at the first site .
The first few boxes were empty , but then we struck gold . A box which contained a nest last month , contained a female and four young , which must be about four weeks old , soon to leave

the safety of the box . This is one of the litter , fully coated and eyes wide open . Apologies for the lack of sharpness , but it was in a Hazel coppice and I didn't want to use flash . The full litter was two males and two females , all weighing in at about 8 gramms each , not bad , but needing to feed up before hibernating . Although it cannot be seen , this one had a white tip to it's tail , the only one in the litter , proving the 25% occurrance in the species .

It is not only Dormice found in the boxes . Especially at this time of the year , many moths use them during the day . I believe this is a Copper Underwing , but I know two people who will put me right if I am mistaken . Last month's survey found a Wren nesting in one of the boxes . I am pleased to say that the nest is now empty , the youngsters having fledged in the time between visits . No other Dormice were found at this site , but reptiles were found in good numbers . The total haul was 8 Slow Worms , 10 Grass Snakes , 3 Common Lizards and 1 Adder . This Grass Snake was trying to warm up on top of the tin .

The second site is smaller with 20 Dormice boxes and 16 tins/felts . The very first stop for reptiles produced two Adders , half in / half out of the tin . The browner of the two is a female and the darker a male . Under the felt next door was a juvenile Grass Snake .

Although most reptiles are found under the refugia , it is always nice to find one in more natural conditions . This female was laying out in a glade with refugia placed in it , but chose this spot beside some brash .

A single male Dormouse was found close by , in a box with an overnight nest - just a few hazel leaves in the bottom . The plastic bag is used to weigh the animals , and all information is sent to the Mammal Society , as part of their monitoring programme .

On the way around the site , we came across these fungi , with to my mind the perfect name ,
Parasol Mushroom-Lepiota procera . The size can be judged by the 35mm. film cannister .

In the last but one Dormouse box , we had the best find of the site , when we found this Mum
tucked up with her five young , who couldn't have been more than a week old , without coats and eyes tight closed . The combined weight of the five youngsters was 8.5 grammes .

The total recorded for the site was , 4 adult and 5 young Dormice , 5 Adders , 7 Grass Snakes and 2 Slow Worms .

The last job of the day was to check that an electric fence was operating properly . As we drove across the field , this Roe buck shower himself briefly , then disappeared into the crop , not to be seen again .
Not bad this volunteering lark .


Kingsdowner said...

Sounds a good job to me!
Fascinating stuff.

Warren Baker said...

They really are something - those little doormice! Seeing these creatures up close is a real privalige, and one you deserve for all your volunary work grenie.