A partnership between the Woodland Trust and the National Trust

The Ups and Downs of Hibernation

A group of Fingle Woods volunteers is using the emergence of spring as an opportunity to learn about the ecology of dormice. As monitoring the nests of this protected species can only be done under licence the team has started a two-year programme of training in monitoring techniques. They aim to get a licence and, if all goes to plan, take over some of the monitoring duties in the future.
This year’s early results are starting to tell an interesting story. Though there are a few dormice appearing in the nest boxes it seems they might be a bit delayed in their activity. In previous years the blue tits have made use of the nest boxes. These temporary lodgings are used from April to May, but this year the blue tits are still in their nests in late May and early June. Reports from some of the pied flycatcher monitors have backed up this evidence with their observations as well.


Blue tit chicks in a dormouse box in late May (photos Emma Kelly)

A few sleepy dormice were found in the Fingle nest boxes this week but they are probably waiting for warmer weather before they can start getting going with some serious nest building.
Are they making a slow start to the season? Have they been delayed by the fickle weather? It’s a real fight for survival for many of the wild species of the woods.

Just emerged from hibernation – a small dormouse needs food!

Just emerged from hibernation – a small dormouse needs food!

To add to the mystery, Tom Wood, the National Trust Ranger found an adult dormouse of a good healthy weight in Cod Wood a couple of weeks ago. The story will unfold as the season goes on and more will be revealed when more results are in. With the help of the volunteers the big picture of the ecology of Fingle will fully emerge through the summer.

Torpid dormouse conserving energy

Torpid dormouse conserving energy

Photos: Emma Kelly

Written by Matt Parkins

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