Autumn has most definitely arrived. As we light our fires and prepare for longer evenings and chilly mornings, spare a thought for those creatures who are making their own preparations to help them survive the colder months ahead.
Dormouse have been feeding through Sept and Oct to gain enough fat reserves for their winter hibernation (they need to double their weight – imagine putting on that sort of weight to get you through the winter!):
Hazel nuts are an important source of food for them at this time of year, and searching for their characteristically nibbled hazelnuts on the ground is a good indicator of their presence – look for a neat hole with a smoothly-chiselled circular edge (unlike the vertical striations of the wood mouse or bank vole):
Nibbled hazelnuts (Left: woodmouse, Right: dormouse)
One of our ‘Wildlife Where you Live’ communities, Pontrhydfendigaid (‘Bont’), has its own woodland at Coed Dolgoed, and on November 1st from 2-6 pm we will be holding dormouse-box making sessions in the Village Hall in Pontrhydfendigaid. These will be erected around Coed Dolgoed next Spring to see if any of our furry friends move in. The project is being run in conjunction with Communities First, and everyone is welcome to join us for 1 hour, or more. Please book in advance : firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also be holding a ‘Great Nut Hunt’ later in the year at Coed Dolgoed to learn how to identify nibbled hazel nuts and to try and find out if dormouse are using this woodland. A date will be announced very shortly.
Signs of dormouse have also been found at Denmark Farm, and we now have a number of dormouse boxes around site and an information panel along the boardwalk. Why not pop in to have a look if you’re passing? For more information about nibbled nuts, and other dormice facts and figures, have a look at the ptes fact sheet from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.