Rare hazel dormouse snapped on RSPB Exe Estuary reserves

PUBLISHED: 07:28 30 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:31 30 June 2017

Hazel Dormouse spotted on the RSPB Exe Estuary Reserves by photographer Jo King. Photo Credit: Jo King, Wildlife Photographer, Devon

Hazel Dormouse spotted on the RSPB Exe Estuary Reserves by photographer Jo King. Photo Credit: Jo King, Wildlife Photographer, Devon

Archant

It is the first time a dormouse has been seen at the reserve. Wildlife photographer and RSPB volunteer Jo King was quick to snap it when she was visiting the site last week.

A wildlife photographer has taken the first photos of a rare species at the RSPB Exe Estuary reserves.

Jo King, who is a volunteer at the site m, was able to snap the hazel dormouse during the day along one of the footpaths.

It is the first time a dormouse, an endangered species across the UK, has been seen at the reserve.

Jo was there last week hoping to capture photos of birds when she spotted the small creature in tall seeded grass.

She said it was a ‘momentous experience’ to take a picture of the creature from two metres away as it usually nocturnal.

Jo said: “Suddenly, something small, brown and fluffy caught my eye - clinging to a blade of grass right in front of me. As I edged closer it dropped down to the ground but didn’t run off. My heart started pounding and adrenaline kicked in – it was a dormouse. I’d never spotted one before, but had seen plenty of photos, and this tiny, ginger-coloured ball of fluff, with its thick, furry tail was unmistakable.

“But to my amazement the dormouse was really chilled – he sat nibbling the grass seed and grooming himself for over an hour – I was mesmerised. Eventually the dormouse jumped to the ground and crawled into the tangled grass and brambles. At which point I finally let out an emotional and fairly loud, ‘Wow’”

Wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) says the hazel dormouse is in long-term decline with its population falling by nearly 40 percent in 17 years. The dormouse species itself is now vulnerable to extinction in Britain

Peter Otley, RSPB site manager for the Exe Estuary Reserves, called the discovery ‘fantastic’.

He added: “This is a first for the RSPB Exe Estuary reserves and demonstrates how the careful management of our hedgerows and field margins can have such a positive effect on a wide range of wildlife. We’re really excited to be providing a home for another protected species and to be able showcase the wonderful wildlife that our reserves support at all times of the year.”

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