Meet the Volunteer - Liza Ellis

Dormouse footprint tunnel Fiona Everingham

Ecology Group volunteer Liza Ellis tells us about the dormouse surveys she helps with in West Northamptonshire

I first joined the Wildlife Trust BCN when we moved to the area as I go walking and birdwatching as a hobby and wanted to know about the Nature Reserves in the area. About 3 years ago I heard about the Dormouse Dispersal project and started volunteering as I would love to see a dormouse in the wild (they are very cute!).

To begin with I was helping with checking the dormouse nest boxes at Salcey Forest, where we are looking to establish if they are present, and if not when they manage to reach the forest from nearby dispersal. Since dormice are a legally protected species, this is done with a licence holder. In spite of the covid restrictions this year I was also able to join a new project at Hazelborough Wood using footprint tunnels to look at dormouse presence throughout the wood.

I like volunteering for the Wildlife Trust as I enjoy being outside and there is always the chance to see something new and different.

Because you are generally with at least one staff member there is the opportunity to learn from their knowledge and experience. Whilst we didn't find any dormice this year we did see an Elephant Hawk-Moth caterpillar on one visit and on another found the impressive Devil's Coach Horse beetle, which I had never seen before.

The dormouse surveys have finished for the winter now but I will definitely be volunteering for this project again in the spring. I would like to do more and luckily my employer takes their corporate social responsibility seriously,so allows me to take up to two days a year paid leave for volunteering.