Our first year BSc (Hons) and FdSc Ecology and Conservation Management degree students spent Wednesday morning constructing dormouse boxes at the Sparsholt College Game and Wildlife Centre. They then headed out in the afternoon to meet Catherine Hadler (Area Ranger for the National Trust) at one of the Trust’s woodland sites near Mottisfont, Hampshire.
Under Catherine’s guidance, the students put the boxes up around the woodland, a task which followed on from similar work carried out by the Level 3 Conservation and Wildlife Management students last year.
Catherine said: “Part of our habitat management in our woodlands at Mottisfont involves species surveys, which provide information about the health and density of species population. It is vital that surveys are carried out alongside our woodland management work as it enables us to monitor the impact on species and how successful our work is.
“We survey for many types of creature including butterflies, birds, bats (especially barbastelle) and, more recently, hazel dormice. Sparsholt students have been instrumental in setting up new monitoring grids for hazel dormice at Mottisfont.
“The students have made dormouse boxes which they have then brought to the site and set up with the National Trust. This enables them to get practical insight into surveying methods and woodland management as part of their education, whilst we get a very enthusiastic and willing band of helpers who are keen to learn!”
The boxes will be checked in the summer to look for evidence of dormouse activity – though in the meantime it is likely that blue tits and wood mice will enjoy the free accommodation!