Worcestershire Record No. 5 Nov 1998 p. 18


Bronwen Bruce

Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan Officer

The dormouse is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 5. Sites with dormice are therefore protected by law. However we do need to know where they are in order to enforce this law. Records for dormice are pretty good in the Worcestershire Biological Records Centre. However most are from the early 1980s, around about the time of the 1983 Mammal Atlas (unpublished). To update our conservation strategy regarding this biodiversity priority species new records are required.

Some sites can be pin-pointed today. We know that they occur at the Knapp & Papermill, Ravenshill and Monkswood Wildlife Trust reserves. Forest Enterprise kindly informed me of populations in Ribbersford Wood - only discovered around five years ago - and in parts of the Wyre Forest. The Biological Records Centre has recent records for Old Storridge Woods (SO750515), and the records it has from the 1980s are a good starting point to begin looking for additional records in the 1990s. English Nature has additional 1990s records from woods at the Malvern Hills, and sites near Bewdley.

Access to most of these sites is not a problem as nearly all are linked by the Worcestershire Way footpath and a network of associated footpaths. Even though you are unlikely to see an animal it is easy to look along the footpaths for dormouse-nibbled nuts under hazel trees and shrubs. Dormice have adapted to do this efficiently and leave behind a characteristic pattern not mimicked by any other species in Britain. The resultant hole is completely round - unlike squirrel-cracked nuts - and feels very smooth - unlike nuts nibbled by other mice or bank voles.

Harry Green and I have looked at a number of sites and have began to yield interesting results. Hedgerows throughout the west Worcestershire area may be acting as important corridors linking woodland fragments. Dormouse signs were spotted along the hedgerow that runs down from Ravenshill wood to Crews Hill. Dormouse signs were found at Tinkers Coppice and on the Abberley Hills. These records can now be seen as definite sites rather than presumed/probable sites. Other sites did not yield positive results, for example the country park at Ankerdine Hill (where they were recorded in 1983) but this does not mean that they are not here, just that further inquiries are needed. Finding out exactly where dormice exist is a first step in promoting their recovery by focusing on places where habitat re-creation is necessary and likely to be successful.

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