Friends of the Fowey Estuary

F.O.F.E. member Margaret Gardener (a licensed dormouse worker) already has two dormouse nestbox schemes running on the East side of the Fowey Estuary. In addition to these, at a recent FOFE meeting, we decided to follow up the suggestion of resurrecting a scheme in Lantyan Wood. Member Phil Croxton had researched the site which had hosted a set of 50 dormouse nestboxes from 1993 to 2007. The boxes had been monitored by Ron Evenden with some help in the final year from Cathy Turtle. Ron had kept excellent records and Phil had obtained copies of these.

A meeting was organised for today, Saturday 5th October, and Claire H had contacted and invited along Cathy Turtle and had gained permission (plus a map) from The Woodland Trust who own the wood.

Seven of us turned up in beautiful autumnal weather. Cathy had remembered the site quite well and after a short while we began to find the (remains of) the boxes. All had suffered in our damp climate and it soon became apparent that a full replacement of all 50 boxes would be needed. We eventually found at least two thirds of the boxes and their locations were logged using GPS.

Some boxes were still functioning, after a fashion, and we found tit and wren nests, wood mouse signs AND an old dormouse nest AND a new dormouse nest. Dormouse nests are recognised by their woven construction and usually contain strands such as honeysuckle bark. Leaves are often picked fresh and green as they are more pliable than dry leaves. Our new dormouse nest had green leaves which looked as though they had been collected only a day or two ago.

The wood has excellent structure and diversity of plants and trees, containing many dormouse favoured species such as hazel, honeysuckle, sweet chestnut, brambles etc. etc. The visit was pronounced a success despite losing one member of our group. It would be churlish to let on that this person was called Caroline.

Flushed with success, we have decided to replace the 50 boxes and restart the monitoring. Lantyan was previously a site in the National Dormouse Monitoring scheme organised by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). Cathy has offered to try to procure a set of boxes from the PTES. Simultaneously, as a second line of attack, Claire will contact the Woodland Trust to try to obtain boxes via them.

I have already talked with an electrician friend and he has given me some electrical flex and will be saving more for us to attach the boxes to trees.

Hopefully, we shall have the boxes in place during this winter ready for dormouse emergence from hibernation next spring. I have recently regained my dormouse licence and look forward to being part of the checking of the boxes monthly next year to compare up-to-date results with those so carefully collected by Ron in the past. There will be opportunities for other members to come along in small numbers to see what we do.

It would be interesting to find out if Ron Evenden is still in the area to chat with and keep informed of our progress. Does anyone know anything about him?

A big thank you to Cathy and all those members who made today a success (especially to Claire for the refreshments).

Rob Wells.         

Click on thumbnails for larger version Lantyan Dormouse Survey 5.10.13 FUNGI SPOTTED ON THE DAY