Saturday, 24 October 2015

A Dormouse Hunt

I joined an Oxfordshire Mammal Group survey for Dormice in Wychwood on Thursday morning.  The Group has set up 100 dormouse boxes in each of 14 locations throughout Oxfordshire.  Once every month to two months the boxes are surveyed to see if there are dormice in any of the boxes, as a way of confirming their presence. It is a project to see if there are dormice, uncommon throughout the country, in suitable habitat, hazel with brambles nearby.   Years ago I saw my one and only dormouse in a survey of  a BBOWT reserve, Homefield Wood near Marlow.

Dormouse Nestbox

Seven of us set out from Leafield, around 15 miles south of Hooky, to check the boxes in Wychwood.   All of them were empty, which was disappointing but not unexpected.   We also checked to see if there were any hazel nuts showing dormouse feeding signs - some chewed by wood mice , others broken by squirrels, but none showing the characteristic augured holes of dormice.   A blank.

I did find a few plants of Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale) and some interesting fungi in the mixed wood, presenting the usual identification challenge.  Even with a clean spore print, a full description and a picture of spores under a microscope there is still room for a failed or incorrect identification.  

Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale)

 Stump Puffball (Lycoperdum pyriforme)

 Trooping Funnel (Clitocybe geotropa)

 Blewit (Lepista sordida)

Probably Leaf Parachute ( Marasmius epiphyllus)

Close up: Probably Leaf Parachute ( Marasmius epiphyllus)

Mmmm.   Not sure.  Could be a Naucoria species. Spores 9x6 microns, oval.

 Scarlet Elfcap (Sarcosypha austriaca) - might be S. coccinea which is closely related

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