Cumbria Crack

Tracking down the rare hazel dormouse

Dougie Watson (left) teaching Rusland Horizons apprentice Harry how to put up and check a Dormouse nest box. Copyright: Whitewood & Fleming

[M]ost Cumbrian sightings of the Hazel Dormouse are in Roudsea Woods, near Haverthwaite. Although always rare in the county, the Victorian natural historians knew that they also lived in the Rusland valley, at Ayside and near Kendal.

The Rusland Horizons Woodlands and Wildlife Officer Dougie Watson said, “The Rusland valley has the right habitat for the hazel dormouse and there are rumours that they have been seen in the last 10 years, but we don’t have any firm evidence. They could still be here. I have been putting up nesting boxes in the valley but so far, we have not been successful in finding any signs of dormice.

We have not looked for dormice in the Bowkerstead area so the ‘Bioblitz’ event (see information below) gives us a great opportunity. We will be setting some traps during the week before the event. No animals will be harmed as we will be setting footprint traps, which are a cardboard tunnel with some bait in the middle and ink pads at each end. If an animal goes in it leaves behind footprints. We also have some sticky tubes, which collect hairs as a small mammal moves through.

At the Bioblitz the public will be able to help us study the footprints and the hairs to work out what has been visiting our traps. I will also be doing a guided walk to tell people more about the life of a dormouse and what signs they need to look for. The more people we have looking for dormice the more chance we have of finding them.

The Bioblitz is a great way of getting people involved in wildlife monitoring. It would be a really momentous occasion if we did find evidence of a dormouse during the event.”

The Bowkerstead Bioblitz, a free family-friendly event, takes place at the Grizedale Campsite, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, LA12 8LL from 4pm on Saturday 30 June to 4pm on Sunday 1st July. Activities will include an evening bat walk, butterfly hunt, guided walks, moth trapping, and tracking mammals. The event is being run by Rusland Horizons and Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre.

For a full programme and further information visit:

Or visit our Facebook event page:

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