IT MEANS MOTHER NATURE.

AND IT’S TRUE.

Tracking down dormice

Spring has woken up trees, plants and sleeping creatures of forest. The 5th and 6th grade students from Tērvete region together with Valdis Pilāts, the senior expert of Nature Conservation Agency, zoologist and dormouse researcher, went to search for dormice footprints at the LVM Nature Park in Tērvete.

In the first week of March, in the framework of JSC “Latvijas valsts meži” educational programme “Learning About Forests”, dormice search began with an informational lecture about what are we going to search today, where does hazel dormouse live and how to find them. The discussion included tricky questions from the energetic dormouse researcher and funny and precise answers from the active children of Tērvete region schools.

The territory of Latvia is a habitat for four dormouse species out of 26 in the world and five in Europe, it is interesting. The LVM Nature Park in Tērvete is famous with having the most ancient and prominent pine trees in the Baltic region, but the unique pine forest is also proud with its dense common hazel thicket under the large trees, which allows us to think that we can be neighbours to these small and nimble nocturnal creatures.

During the lecture, children and dormouse researcher went on a field practice at the nature park. Nature friends cleaned birdhouses that were set up last season and examined their contents, because, as it turns out, hazel dormice, quite often, settles in birdhouses and leave very peculiar traces. Now, the clean birdhouses can meet their new season’s residents – tits, European pied flycatcher and others. The teamwork of carrying the main object – a ladder, taking down and examining birdhouses, talking through the information and setting birdhouses back to their old place was filled with discussions, laughter, questions and answers.

The field practice trail included 36 birdhouses, unfortunately no traces of dormice was found, but they saw other exciting traces of nature's events – traces of hatched little birds, abandoned nest, also some mischief of showy forest citizens – martens. Strolling between winter and spring, the bright green moss covers, here and there, covered with snow blankets, we didn't meet dormice, but, on our way back, a question comes up – surely little hazel dormouse must be hiding in some of the hazel thickets of the LVM Nature Park in Tērvete 1200 ha territory?

The LVM Nature Park in Tērvete has become an environmental education centre for schoolchildren by providing learning excursions and lessons, camps and creative workshops.  In 2015, almost 10 thousand schoolchildren had combined recreation in nature with a possibility to learn and understand the processes of forest ecosystem.

 

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