Meet the monitor: Emma Scotney

In this series, we chat to the dedicated staff members, conservation partners and volunteers at PTES. We find out why each of them chose a career in wildlife conservation, what they find rewarding about their work and what they love most about what they do.

Emma Scotney weighing a dormouse

Tell us about yourself and the site you monitor

I’m an Ecologist for South West Lakes Trust, based in Devon, but I travel all over the south west for my work including Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. My job is to manage and care for the biodiversity at our reservoirs and lakes. I’ve got dormouse boxes and nest tubes up in various sites across all four counties, and I have two NDMP sites which are both in Devon: Roadford Lake, monitored since 2005, and Trenchford Reservoir, since 2013. I also volunteer for Natural England which involves monitoring some of their dormouse boxes in Cornwall too.

How long have you been monitoring for?

I’ve been monitoring Roadford Lake and Trenchford Reservoir for four years since I started my role at South West Lakes Trust.

What’s the most memorable day you’ve had looking for dormice?

A day at Wimbleball Lake a couple of years ago. In September 2019, I was given some hazelnuts which had been collected on site and opened by dormice. That October we handmade 15 dormouse boxes with wood we collected from fallen trees. We put the boxes up in hazel coppice the following January and, in May 2020, we found our first pair of dormice in one of the boxes. We now monitor these boxes twice a year and have had up to five dormice in the 15 boxes at any one time.

Describe your woodland and why it’s special to you?

The woodlands we have at Roadford Lake and Trenchford Reservoir are both dominated by hazel which has been coppiced in the past. They’re home to lots of wildlife including dormice, bats, deer, badgers, foxes, otters, birds and amphibians. The bats, birds and amphibians also use our dormouse boxes! These sites have the most wonderful views of open water, meadows, hedges and woodlands and they’re just as beautiful to visit in wintertime when the forest floor is frosted over.

Roadford Lake West, March 2021

What are the challenges at the site?

Some of our reservoirs and lakes can be remote and changeable throughout year. We battle bramble, unpredictable weather, holes, slopes and uneven ground most of the time. Most of our reservoirs and lakes are open to the public and unfortunately people occasionally open our boxes, take the lids off and sometimes take the boxes altogether.

Tell us something about you we wouldn’t expect from a dormouse monitor

I’m interested in all species that turn up in our boxes, except if it buzzes! We take notes on anything from bats to slugs. I also ring chicks we find in birds’ nests in the dormouse boxes which involves putting a unique metal ring on a chick’s leg as part of the BTO bird ringing scheme.     

Can you help us reintroduce more dormice to the wild?

Header image credit: John Webley

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