I woke up really early on Saturday, I was so excited about checking and cleaning the dormouse boxes at my new site. It’s the first box check I’ve done since getting my licence at the end of last year, and the first one I’ve led. And I don’t know the site that well.
I dreamt that we found a box with five placid, fat dormice. Sadly reality didn’t quite live up to this – all the dormice at my site seem to be hibernating still. (Elsewhere in Surrey one of my fellow dormousers found three, including a chubby 25g male – that’s a good pre-hibernation weight, let alone for one just emerging from hibernation!) But we did find one common shrew, which we quickly let go to find its next meal.
Our main task was to get rid of the manky old nests from boxes, with lots of woodmice or bird droppings, so they’re fresh and clean for when the dormice are active. No signs of any new bird or dormouse nests yet. I was pleased that we were able to find all the boxes – the map I’ve inherited is clear and accurate, which always helps.
In addition to the spring cleaning we had 10 new nest boxes to put up. Luckily I had the assistance of some very helpful volunteers, so we got through all the work in a reasonable time. We managed to find some likely looking hazel stands to put them up on just across the track from the other boxes, so with any luck we will be able to find them again next month. And if we find any dormice in them, we’ll be able to feel a quiet glow of satisfaction that we helped provide the basis of a good home for them.