Coastal Cliff Dormice

11th May 2009, Monday

Soft rock coastal undercliff has now been confirmed as a dormouse habitat in the south-east. After a couple years of planning, a new dormouse monitoring programme has started at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve. Instead of just monitoring traditional woodland dormice habitats, the young regenerating open scrubby woodland and scrub of the cliff-top and undercliff of Warren Glen was also chosen to study.

Dormouse undercliff habitat

The woodland and scrub on the cliff-top and undercliff is in a constant flux of destruction and regeneration due to coastal erosion, and historical maps of the area show that this habitat has existed on the cliff-top and undercliff for long continous periods of time. Whereas mature closed canopy woodland was for long periods very much reduced to what is present at the site today.

It was assumed that the undercliff scrub and woodland was an important habitat for dormice at the site and linked the three gill woodlands creating a large continuous area of dormice habitat but until now this was not proven. Now that a dormouse has been recorded, on the first survey round, using an area of open regenerating scrub on the undercliff we are closer to understanding how dormice use the site. Also the numbers of dormice recorded in other areas of the survey area was very high for this time of year.

This has been a very successful start to the monitoring programme and thanks should go to Martin Newcombe who is supervising the work and to Hastings Ranger Alex Bayley, and volunteers Martin Usher and Ian Standivan for installing the dormouse nest boxes and survey tubes.