This weekend (17 & 18th October), Belfairs Woodland Centre will be holding an exhibition of paintings by local wildlife artist, Joel Kirk. This is the second time, Joel has exhibited at Belfairs and his work is well worth seeing. Joel has very kindly donated a new painting of dormice, which will be raffled in aid of both Essex Wildlife Trust and the Southend Dormouse Group. Please show your support and contact Belfairs Woodland Centre to buy your ticket(s) - £1 per ticket or £5 for a book of 5 tickets.

(Click the image for a larger view.)

Raffle poster

We have been invited to take our Dormouse Display to the Apple Day, at St Laurence Orchard, on Saturday 10th October.

It should be a great family day out, so please come along.  We look forward to seeing you.

(Click the poster to view a larger version.)

Apple Day poster

Several years ago, we ran a fundraising event called Dormouse 'Housey Housey', which proved popular and raised £800 for the Essex Wildlife Trust, Southend & Rochford Local Group and £100 for the Southend Dormouse Group.  We are now proposing to run the event again and would like to invite you to sponsor a dormouse nest box (or boxes), for the 2015 season, at a cost of £5.00 per box. 

At the end of the season, the sponsor of the nest box that has had the most dormouse use (i.e. the total number of dormice counted in the box between April and November 2015) will win a prize of £50. 


As many of you may know, Belfairs Nature Reserve has a population of the common or hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius).  Despite their name, dormice are far from common now - they are endangered and classed as "vulnerable to extinction" in the UK. 

Research into their decline is ongoing and a major part of this research is the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme, co-ordinated by the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).  This programme compares monitoring data from over 300 sites across England and Wales, including Belfairs Nature Reserve.

The 100 dormouse nest boxes in Belfairs are monitored by trained licence holders (Karen Bigmore & Sue Portsmouth) from the Southend Dormouse Group.  Boxes are checked between April and November (dormice hibernate in winter) and any animals found using the boxes are weighed, sexed and carefully put back.

Please note that dormice are protected under UK and European law, so to disturb (e.g. open a nest box) or handle them requires a licence issued by Natural England. 

How the event will work

To avoid any possible advantage to people who have helped with nest box checking in the past, nest boxes will be allocated by a random draw.  For all postal applications (tickets are also being sold at local EWT meetings) tickets will be drawn on behalf of the sponsor, by Karen and Sue. 

Sponsorship tickets are available by printing and completing the entry form below (or providing the information detailed on the form), which should be posted to:

Southend Dormouse Group
C/o Department for Place
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Civic Centre
Victoria Avenue

Please include a stamped, self-addressed envelope (so that the ticket(s) showing your allocated box number(s) can be sent to you), together with a cheque for £5.00 per box, made payable to Essex Wildlife Trust.

Rules of the event

  • Sponsorship donations will be £5.00 per dormouse box.
  • Sponsorship tickets will be on sale from 1 October 2014 until 31 March 2015.
  • Boxes will be randomly allocated (by drawing raffle tickets).
  • In the event of a draw, the £50 prize will be shared.
  • The box sponsorship will be administered by Karen Bigmore and Sue Portsmouth, who will be responsible for recording dormouse numbers and identifying the winning box(es).  Karen and Sue will not be permitted to sponsor a box.
  • No other animals found in the boxes (e.g. wood mice) will count towards the total.
  • Postal applications should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope, so that the ticket drawn can be sent to the box sponsor.
  • Cheques should be made payable to:  Essex Wildlife Trust.
  • The winner(s) will be notified after the final monitoring session (November 2015) and the results will be published on the Southend Dormouse Group website at

pdf Dormouse Housey Housey 2015 entry form

November 2014 has seen the publication of the new Mammals of Essex, by ecologists John Dobson and Darren Tansley.

This book contains fully updated and illustrated information about all of the mammal species found in Essex and has been described as the "best county mammal atlas yet” by Professor Steve Harris of the Mammal Society.

Copies are available to order from the Essex Mammals site at, as detailed in the leaflet below.

mammals of essex leaflet 

In September 2014, Sue and Karen attended the 9th International Dormouse Conference, which was held in Svendborg, Denmark.

Over 100 people from all over the world (including Japan, Iran, South Africa, Germany, Belgium and the UK) met to hear about and discuss the latest research into the dormouse family.

The next International Dormouse Conference will be held in Belgium, in 2017.