Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tuesday 22nd.September 2009

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 .

6 comments:

ShySongbird said...

What delightful little creatures the Dormice are Greenie, I'm glad they are being so carefully monitored and hope their numbers will increase before long.

I spent some time this morning trying to have another go at identifying your caterpillar, sadly to no avail, do please let us know if you find out what it is!

Kingsdowner said...

That's a lot of trudging for just a few dormice, but at least you found some to cuddle.
Is there a recent local survey report available to the general public? Not for twitching, you understand, just for interest?

Rambling Rob said...

Hi Greenie,
What a privilege to meet those Dormice.
Are you sure that Fuligo septica isn't a portion of saffron rice?

Greenie said...

ShySongbird ,
Thank you for trying again , will do .

Steve ,
Will make some enquiries and get back to you .

Rob ,
I can see where you are coming from , but to the touch it is as per it's common name - slimy .

Dean said...

Such a privilege to be able to get close to Dormice. You`re so lucky.

Warren Baker said...

Good work Greenie. cant you leave some cobnuts in the boxes to help fatten the doormice ?