Project News

July 2012 - Hedgehog Surveys

posted 22 Aug 2012, 10:23 by Haley Whittall   [ updated 22 Aug 2012, 10:35 ]

The Threatened Species Project has just been extended to include hedgehogs.  We are now offering Crowborough Conservation members the chance to borrow special Hedgehog Survey Tunnels which use ink-pads to record hedgehog footprints.  The survey, aimed primarily at gardens, hopes to build up a better picture of exactly where hedgehogs occur in and around Crowborough and will also help the Folly Wildlife Trust (based near Tunbridge Wells), to identify suitable sites in Crowborough where hedgehogs could be released back into the wild.  The data from the survey will also be fed back to the Mammal Society who are coordinating a nationwide hedgehog survey.

If you would like to borrow a Hedgehog Survey Tunnel and information pack, or would like to donate £10 towards the cost of the tunnels, please contact Barry Kemp at

If you already know that hedgehogs are in your garden, please fill in the hedgehog/mammal recording form.

Hedgehog Survey Tunnel

With an easy to use mammal footprint chart and specially made Hedgehog Survey Tunnel you can discover whether hedgehogs or other small mammals like voles or shrews come to your garden at night .

June 2012 - A Project Participant's Perspective

posted 6 Jul 2012, 09:24 by Haley Whittall   [ updated 6 Jul 2012, 09:35 ]

Dormice survey - 17th June 2012

'dormouse n,pl -mice a small rodent resembling a mouse with a furry tail [origin unknown]' 

This is the definition of this tiny mammal in the 2011 Collins English Dictionary. Not only did this definition not help me with discovering what the origins of the name dormouse were, it also summed up how little we know about this rare species.

That is why the monitoring that Barry, Kate (a dormouse ecologist) and Crowborough Conservation are doing is very important.

The first time I helped last year we found seven dormice. It was very exciting to see so many and different ages both male and female. They were active and didn’t quite fit the idea of the ‘sleeping mouse.’

A dormouse in the hand
This year however when I volunteered we only found one dormouse. The wind had damaged some of the boxes. Many were very wet and it was a very cool and damp day for June. Some boxes had bird’s nests with abandoned unhatched eggs inside. This is a tough year for all living organisms including humans!

That solitary dormouse was evidence that they are still hanging on in the land around the Ghyll even in bad conditions. It also shows how weather conditions and habitat changes endanger all species and particularly increases the fragility of those who are endangered.

But that less exciting one dormouse is still very important because it will become part of a larger scientific survey that will increase our knowledge of the Dormouse. 

Photo by Ellen Kemp

Crowborough Conservation will have contributed to this wider work.

By Joy Clarke

April 2012

posted 6 May 2012, 03:59 by Haley Whittall   [ updated 6 Jul 2012, 06:28 ]

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Crowborough Conservation has started checking a number of survey sites for activity prior to this year's field events for members.

An early check was undertaken at The Ghyll to check the Dormouse nest boxes.  To our surprise we found one dormant Dormouse in a part of The Ghyll where Dormice had not been recorded before. 

A dormant Dormouse at The Ghyll 
A dormant Dormouse at The Ghyll

A dormant Dormouse at The Ghyll.
In early spring, if the weather is bad and food is scarce, Dormice become torpid. It is somewhat like hibernation: the dormouse's body becomes cold and it stays very still, it almost appears to be dead.  Going torpid allows the dormouse to save fat reserves that it could need should the bad weather continue and food remain unavailable. Torpor probably saves around 20% of the energy that would normally be used during a day.

At one of our reptile survey sites, Hornshurst Wood in Rotherfield, we witnessed two pairs of breeding Adders and caught site (very briefly) of two male Adders in a 'Dance of the Adders' , where the males raise the front half of their bodies to wrestle each in a show of strength to stake their claim to a receptive female.

We have recently made contact with an owner of a different part of Hornshurst Wood where Adders occur so can look forward to gaining more information about this fascinating reptile, which is thought to be in serious decline in the UK.

Another reptile survey site, new for 2012 , includes a parcel of land in the Ghyll which has just been purchased by the Town Council. 

Crowborough Conservation members will be invited to join in with these Dormouse and reptile surveys starting from late May.  We will publish dates in due course.

November 2011

posted 16 Nov 2011, 14:44 by Haley Whittall   [ updated 6 Jul 2012, 08:19 ]

In order to be able to start the Dormouse surveys nest boxes and tubes were installed at three local sites.  Volunteers also cleared areas of dense bracken in order to begin the reptile surveys.

Although the surveys were started quite late in the season for both Dormice and reptiles, initial results are very encouraging. Already a colony of Slow worms have been discovered at one site and individual Grass snakes, Adders and Common lizards observed at another.

Volunteers look at Dormouse nest
The news is even better for Dormice.  Ecologist Kate Ryland was delighted to be able to share with a small group of volunteers the rare experience of observing seven Dormice from one section of woodland.  Volunteers were also lucky to see numerous signs of Dormouse activity (nests and gnawed hazelnuts) during the visit.  Since Dormice live in low densities, observing seven during one survey is quite significant.
Volunteers look at Dormouse Nest

Kate was also able to take another group of volunteers to another site where there were some encouraging signs of possible Dormouse presence.

Kate Ryland preparing to weigh  Dormouse as part of the National Dormouse Survey Recording Scheme
The Crowborough Conservation Dormouse surveys will feed into the National Dormouse Survey Recording Scheme, where vital data about the numbers of Dormice found, their weight and general health is collected across the whole of the UK.
Kate Ryland preparing to weigh a Dormouse                                                     
As well as continuing the reptile surveys in 2012, a series of pond and amphibian surveys are also planned to coincide with the amphibian breeding season in the spring.

If you are interested in taking part in surveys for reptiles, amphibians or Dormice, please let us know.

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