Hi, I’m Suzanne! I moved to Kent from Leeds 22 years ago and was keen to get involved with the local wildlife groups as a way of connecting with the county. I contacted Kent Mammal Group to ask if there was any way I could help out and they said I might want to train for my dormouse licence in order to become a dormouse monitor for the NDMP scheme – I thought it was a great idea.
I had never seen a dormouse before, but very soon became completely enamoured of them and keen to help protect the species in any way I could. After one season’s worth of training (yes it was different in those days) I was able to obtain my licence.
“I had never seen a dormouse before, but very soon became completely enamoured of them and keen to help protect the species in any way I could.“
I was then assigned two woods where I could assist the existing monitors. One of these was Spong which I believe was the first wood in Kent, if not the first in the country to be registered as part of the monitoring scheme.
It was a great way to get to know the local countryside and I really looked forward to my monthly meanderings around the wood as well as any chance encounters with dormice and any other small mammals which might be using the boxes (pygmy shrews are a particular favourite of mine).
I have now been monitoring at Spong Wood for nearly 20 years. My enthusiasm hasn’t diminished, but sadly the dormouse numbers have declined over the years. I am hoping that since we know about the decline in numbers through the monitoring programme it will be possible to put some management practices in place to make the habitat suitable for dormice once again.
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.