They aren't in the bag for long, just enough to weigh them in the bag using a hand held suspended scale, then they're checked over and released back into their box. This little one weighed in at 17 grams, which is bang on for this time of year. They need to reach 30 grams just before they hibernate in order to survive the winter.
I got to hold this little one as part of my licence training process. The experts make it look easy, believe me! I tend to think I'm fairly good with wild things, but Dormice are in a league of their own. Until you're used to handling them and know how tight you can hold them without doing harm, it isn't easy. They slip and slide like soap in a bath, and they also whizz through the tiniest gaps in your fingers. On top of that they have sticky feet, which helps them to climb trees but makes them very hard to manoeuvre in your hands. Oh, and their tail hair can shed very easily as well, a thing you need to avoid at all costs as it makes them vulnerable to infection. So a lot to think about when you pick one up, and this probably explains why this one squeezed out of a miniscule gap in my hands and disappeared into the undergrowth before we could see if it was male or female.
I will just add that it's illegal to handle Hazel Dormice here in the UK without a licence, or having a licence holder present. They are a highly endangered species who have maximum protection under UK law. In fact, it's illegal even to approach a nest box.
We found several nests in the boxes, some belonging to Dormice and this one below, which belongs to a Wood Mouse. You can tell this from the nibble pattern on the nuts and the way the nest has been made with brown leaves. Dormice place green hazel leaves in their nests along with the brown which they fill the boxes with, and also eat the nut differently.
It was a lovely morning in the woods with lots of other interesting species out and about. I saw Silver Washed Fritillary, Red Admiral and Holly Blue flutters...
I'll leave you with a pencil case I made for my new art stuff out of the fab and funky fox fabric (see what I did there?). I found a brilliant tutorial on how to put zips in online. You can find it here if you fancy having a go- it is written really well and simply and is easy to understand and follow. Any unpicking I did was entirely down to my own stupidity :o). I reckon once you get the hang of it it'll only take the 15 mins she suggests too. Bonus, eh?
And of course the regulation pics of T and P, who are both extremely excited at the arrival of Ted's new running lead. We're all going running this afternoon around the fields to celebrate and christen it (even M who has already run 18 miles this morning). Dogs are so clever, aren't they? I'd barely got it out the wrapper and they were both jumping for joy. How did they even know what it was? I will try and remember to get a picture for you. Happy Days :o)
Hope all are well and enjoying the weekend?