The Autumn Equinox was also the day of the monthly Dormouse and Reptile survey , up on the Greensand Ridge . 70 Dormice boxes and about 35 pairs of refugia to check , made for along day's walking . As I have said before , numbers of both have been down this year , but regular monitoring still goes on , in the hope that numbers increase again .
50 boxes were the first target , and once again most were empty , but a couple had Hazel leaves in the bottom , an indicator of the box being used as an 'overnight nest' . A couple had Hazel nut shells that had been opened in the Dormouse style , very neatly . It wasn't until we were about to turn the corner to come back to where we started , that a single male was found . A single , very active male . Several times he attempted to use my arm as a tree , to I finished up putting him in my 'holding pot' , a plastic jar that I think held nuts and raisins originally , whilst we sorted things out . The light in the shot is natural sunlight , I never use flash on these animals . He had a good weight , and I 'posted' him back into his home , none the worse for wear . I was hoping to find some interesting fungi today , especially in the damper area where we found him , but very little was about . I did find one specimen of one the lower classes of fungi , Myxomycetes , commonly called Slime Moulds . A microscope is needed to see many of this class , but there are a few , like this Fuligo septica-Flowers of Tan , a very striking specimen . The refugia didn't produce much either , just the Slow Worm , but one of the corrugated tins had this Hunting type Spider , sat on top , a female , carrying her egg sack with her . It wasn't till the second site that the only Adder , a female was found under refugia . Another female was found laying out sunning herself , but she saw me first and beat the camera . This one was happier to pose for a few shots , she was sharing with two immature Grass Snakes . One shot off straight away , but the other stayed to be included in the shot . On this second site , we trebled our Dormouse numbers , when we found a female and a juvenile . The picture is of the juvenile , a male weighing in at just 6.5 grammes , he will need to feed up now to get a good hibernation weight . Under refugia we also found a Pigmy Shrew and a Wood Mouse , only the second that I have found this year . By no means mega numbers today , but it appears that the Dormice and Reptiles are at least ticking over . As we finished the surveys , it was very pleasing to find a flock of 25+ House Martins , hawking for insects over the last meadow that we walked through .
5 hours ago