Last month I mentioned that there has been a dormouse survey in progress in Three Cornered Copse, undertaken by Ecological Planning & Research, an organisation which works with developers to assess the ecological impact of new building projects. In this case the proposed development of Toad's Hole Valley.
Some of our group met with Jodie Southgate, a Senior Ecologist at EPR, who explained about the work they are doing. The intention is to reduce the impact of Toad's Hole development on the threatened biodiversity of the area by enhancing the areas around, which includes Three Cornered Copse. This is funded by the developers to meet the planning specifications of the local council.
By enhancing the habitat of the copse, and providing a favourable environment for dormice and other species - birds, bats and invertebrates - they would hope to encourage the dispersal of the animals between Toad's Hole and Three Cornered Copse.
The enhancements would include planting native shrubs and hedgerow, selective thinning (to encourage a denser understorey), and a plan for low intensity management (<10% per year), including coppicing.
The nest tubes which have been found in the copse recently are to establish how large the dormice population is at the moment. Some of the tubes have been "disturbed" over the summer, but are there to serve a well-intentioned purpose. And yes, they have found some dormice.
The recent hot weather has taken its toll on the copse vegetation. An oak tree sapling we planted in the earlier wet spring seems to have succumbed to the heat and lack of water. Some other of the more mature trees in the copse have turned their leaves brown already, victims of the drought conditions and the persistent high air temperature.
We know that climate change is bound to alter the population of our native woodlands over the years, and we can see these changes taking place in our local parks. A
recent article in "nature communications" (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-05442-8) uses a forecast system to show that the next four years will show more extreme temperatures, a natural variation, around the general rise in warming. The article suggests that there will be a warm phase for the next 2-3 years. So be prepared for the warmer summers, and the changes which that will bring.
We are planning our workdays for the autumn; the next one is on 1 September, then 27 October. As usual, more information is at http://www.threecorneredcopse.org.uk