The rough areas adjacent to motorways are ideal habitat for animals. Aside from the noise and vibration from vehicles and occasional vegetation management, these areas are relatively undisturbed. For our Ecologist Jasmine, the M25 motorway proved no different, especially around Junctions 5-7 in Surrey.
This stretch is home to many protected species such as great crested newt, common lizard, grass snake, slow worm, adder, roman snail and hazel dormouse. Jasmine and her team working on the M25 widening scheme are on constant lookout for these protected species.
Jasmine says, “One incident was especially memorable. When we were carrying out a watching brief for vegetation clearance last winter, our dormouse-licensed ecologist, Danielle Rozycka, pulled out a plastic carrier bag from dense bramble, expecting it to be a bag of rubbish thrown from a passing vehicle. When she checked its contents, she thought it strange to be filled with vegetation. As she examined it, an animal ran up her arm before leaping off into the dense undergrowth! It was small with golden fur covering its entire body including its tail. It also had black beady eyes with an impressive array of whiskers…..unmistakably, a hazel dormouse!!”
This first hand evidence of a dormouse using a plastic carrier bag as a substitute for a nest box might not be unusual. The plastic bag provided a dry and rain proof home. This finding demonstrates that animals can adapt very well to their surroundings and that they might be found in very unexpected places. A further two nests in plastic bags were found throughout the vegetation clearance phase. Any dormice found were relocated to nest boxes attached to trees outside of the development footprint.