On the acidic areas , as well as Bilberry , Cow Wheat is found , and this is coming into flower now , just a shame that we don't have the Heath Fritillary butterflies , for which it is the foodplant , to go with it .
After this excitement in the middle , the second half retuned to Great and Blue Tit's nests , every now and again . On the top of this site are a few refugia to be turned , but apart from one Slow Worm , nothing was found under them , but two Grass Snakes , one a good sized female laying out on a brash pile , were recorded .
hibernation state . After weighing him , all records going to the monitoring programme run by the Mammal Society , I returned him to his nest , but as I put him back , I felt another animal at the back . It was another male , and he too was in a torpid state . A few boxes on , we found a family of Marsh Tits , and they were on the verge of fledging , perfect replicas of their parents .
Some boxes contained the nests of other species , like this one occupied by a Wren , with eggs still to hatch . We were nearly half way through the boxes before the first Dormouse was found .
50 Dormouse boxes were the first to be inspected , but it wasn't Dormice that were found to begin with , as many were occupied by Blue or Great Tits , with families ranging from not long hatched , to almost ready to fledge .
It looked like a temporary nest , and when I felt inside , I found this male , in a torpid , semi -
Two other small sites , with 5 pairs of refugia on each , were then visited , with 3 Grass Snakes , 2 under a refugia , and a Common Lizard recorded at one , and a male Adder , that didn't want to be photographed , and a Grass Snake that was quite happy to pose for the camera . May of the refugia are used by Wood Ants , and several were seen doing their housework with their eggs .
The last site has 20 Dormouse boxes and about the same number of pairs of refugia , and almost immediately , a female Adder was found under one of the tins . Another female and a male were also recorded here , as were 4 more Grass Snakes . Around one of the lakes , a Grey Heron stood like a sentry on duty , watching us pass by . I must say the birdsong was terrific today , with a good mix of Warblers and Thrushes , and a good sprinkling of Corvids .
The 20 boxes contained a few more Tit families , but also 3 more Dormice , and these three were not torpid , in fact the 2 males and one female were very active . A close up of one of the males found , shows the wonderful whiskers that the Dormouse possesses , needed for moving around in the trees at night . And finally the one female that we found already co-habiting with her mate .
Just to repeat what I said last year , it is an offence to disturb Dormice , with fines running into thousands of pounds . We have licenses to handle them , and the monitoring is done with the least stress that can be managed .