Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tuesday 3rd.November 2009

Given the results of the Dormouse surveys carried out this year , and the miserable , dank weather that greeted us this morning , there was little expectancy as we set off for the first site , containing 50 boxes up on the Greensand Ridge . It came as a pleasant surprise , as the fifth box produced a single male , which would equal some previous surveys . Spurred on by this , another nest was found about a third of the way round , and this contained 3 Dormice , a female and 2 males . Spirits were lifted , even if the rain showers had started again . Then another surprise , when a Wood Mouse was found , using an old Dormouse nest as it's home . I'm pretty sure , this is the first recorded this year , although they were found on a regular basis in previous years . Enough surprises for one day we thought , but no , after a fleeting glimpse of a female Roe Deer , another box produced the first Yellow-necked Mouse of the year , before another single male Dormouse , towards the end of the boxes . The Reptile survey , being done alongside the Dormouse one , was not anywhere near as exciting , as nothing was found under any of the refugia on the site , not surprising given the weather conditions .
As we headed for the second site with 20 boxes , we said that it couldn't be as good , could it ? We were only just starting , when another nest was found , containing just a single male . I say just , but this male weighed in at a massive 32 grammes , enough weight for two good sized adults , and he only had a short tail , but it obviously didn't stop him getting plenty of food . The question we then posed , was , how did he get that bulk through the small hole . Anyway , he certainly shouldn't have any trouble hibernating over the Winter with that amount of body fat . The Reptile survey still remained at '0' , until we turned a tin on the bank of a pond , and recorded an adult Grass Snake , and that turned out to be the only Reptile recorded today . Back with the Dormice , two more single males were recorded , and then on the last but one box opened , another three , once again two males and one female . These three were the most active of all that we found today , and they made a shot of all three of them very difficult . As we sexed and weighed them , we could see that two of them were 'White tips' , the ends of their tails looking as if they had been dipped in a tin of white paint . About 20% of the population are supposed to be 'White tips' , but once again , these were the first that we have recorded this year . Over the 70 boxes surveyed , 12 nests were found , 11 Dormice , plus the other two mouse species . A really satisfying day .
A few fungi that caught my eye on the way round were , Coprinus disseminatus-Fairies' Bonnets ,lots of Xylaria hypoxylon-Candle-snuff or Stag's Horn Fungus ,and amongst the roadstone in our yard , Peziza badia .
We just got back to the yard in time , as a really torrential downpour descended upon the Ridge , and with high winds , made things very , very , wet .


Warren Baker said...

At least you dodged that monsoon greenie.

How do the Dormice results compare with the previous years.

Kingsdowner said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't there was such a thing as a Yellow-necked Mouse.
But checking Wikipedia, it seems that it was only identified as a separate species in 1895, so I have an excuse.
A good survey, all in all.

Greenie said...

Warren ,
Up to this month , numbers were very poor , which made today so surprising .
A couple of years ago , in September/October , we could record up to 30 adult/young .
The first cold winter for a while , last year , seems to have had quite an effect on these animals .
Of course the Dormice could be breeding well in natural nests , very hard to find , but we can only go on what we find in the 70 boxes , but speaking to other surveyors , they are finding similar results to us .

Greenie said...

Steve ,
I thought you would have remembered it being announced .

Anonymous said...

Great post there, Greenie.
Dormice are such beautiful creatures.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Glad you was abled to get out today. Nice survey. Not much to say,except they are cute little critters, aren't they? The Mice I mean.

JRandSue said...

Stunning Dormice image,very cute.

Wilma said...

All those mice are such photogenic little critters. Glad you were pleasantly surprised with the results of the survey.


ShySongbird said...

A lovely post Greenie and quite encouraging regarding the Dormice considering your previous findings. What a chubby chap that one was!

Anonymous said...

Just been showing Rhys and Jordan some of your photos,very cute mice!
We miss you. x