Hi, I’m Michael Walker and I’ve been helping to monitor the dormice at the three reintroduction sites in Nottinghamshire since 2015 when I was on the feeding rota for the new release that year. That was also the first time that I came face to face with a dormouse. Reintroductions generate a lot of interest and when the captive ‘media mouse’ was shown to the local press it was also a new experience for me too.
A few weeks later when on a feeding round I saw another but this time not in the hand but on a hazel stem. I had a few seconds for a photograph before it shot off into the canopy (pictured above). From that moment of I was hooked and wanted to learn more about them and to help monitor this new population along with the two other Nottinghamshire release sites.
“I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than in a traditional coppice managed ancient woodland twice a month in the search for dormice.”
Before dormice came along bats were my main mammal interest and I have been active in bat conservation for over 20 years. Bats are still a consuming passion but dormouse monitoring hours are far more sociable! The monthly surveys during the season are always a highlight of the month for me even if I’m not lucky enough to see a dormouse. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than in a traditional coppice managed ancient woodland twice a month in the search for dormice.
I also help to input all the data we gather onto the NDMP database which helps us to see how well our populations are faring compared to the national picture.
Out of the monitoring season I join other members of Nottinghamshire Dormouse Group to help with the coppice and other habitat management. Over the last two years we’ve laid a hedge, planted new hazel into a new compartment and gapped up hedgerows leading away from our three dormouse woods to help them spread out into the wider landscape. Dormouse monitoring and conservation really is a twelve-month long event.
2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme. Along with our partners at Natural England, PTES collate records from over 400 dormouse monitoring sites across the UK. The NDMP now has hundreds of trained monitors regularly checking dormouse boxes throughout the year. We’re extremely grateful to all our dormouse monitors for their great contribution to dormouse conservation. If you’d like to donate to our work to help us continue conserving this vulnerable species, please donate here. Thank you.