“It was freezing. Really, really freezing.” Olly had just got back from Bude yesterday evening. He body-surfs and taking advantage of the clocks changing and the glorious warm day he’d nipped down to Bude for an early evening surf.
“Did you have your winter wetsuit on?” I asked
“Oh yes. The lot. Hood, gloves, socks. I wear the winter one all year now. Because I’m in the water constantly for maybe an hour or more I get really cold, not like board-surfers.” He hung over the Aga “But it was freezing. Lots of people out there though.” He draped himself across the whole Aga top “And by the way, what’s with all the speed and CCTV cameras down our lane? Not too sure about that!” Our farm lane is half a mile long, lumpy, bumpy, windy and not known for speeding along.
“Ah-ha, yes. New experiment!” Robert had just walked into the kitchen loaded down with seed trays “New design, rural ones! But they won’t show at all in a couple of weeks. Catch you unawares if you go over 5mph!”
“What are they?”
“Dormouse nest tubes. I’m carrying out an experiment.” He replied, dumping the seed trays on the kitchen table “To see whether dormice will use the tubes even when there’s lots of really good natural nesting habitat in the hedges. I suspect that they won’t, but need to check this.” He turned to Olly “Hot tea?”
“But” I interrupt “Isn’t that taking their skills away? I mean the hedges you’ve put them in are the ones where you found lots of dormice nests aren’t they?”
“Yes, you’re right, they are. But actually it’s been shown that dormice babies born in captivity have the ability to make nests. It’s an instinct, not learnt behaviour.”
I pour boiling water into the tea pot “So you’re not enticing them into state-of-the-art des.res at any detriment to their beautifully constructed natural nests?”
“No, I really don’t think so. Many surveys to find out whether there are dormice around, particularly for new developments, use the tubes. But it could be that if the habitat’s really good they just won’t use them – it’s safer to build their own nests. Only if the cover is poor will they resort to using artificial tree holes – which is what the nest tubes are.”
I suddenly have a vision of giant alien beings carrying out experiments on some weirdly strange little human-creatures they’ve noticed. State of the art mansions are placed in tempting locations. What would we do?