The Woodland Trust site at Stock is ideal habitat for dormice
The ancient woodland at Swan Wood in Stock is proving to be an ideal habitat for the endangered dormice.
Success at The Woodland Trust site is due in part to a combination of good woodland management and the development of the newer Cygnet Wood in 2000.
Volunteer Graham Hart had been searching the area for three years without success.
"I knew there were some dormice records in the area so I wanted to confirm their presence here," he said.
A member of the Essex and Suffolk Dormouse project, Graham said the dormice were discovered after they were found to be nesting in survey tubes which had been put up in the wood.
Volunteer Graham Hart discovered the dormice at Swan Wood
"They are like plastic tubes with a ply insert which we put up in the summer months," said Graham.
"They build shelter nests in them which are quite distinctive.
"When you come back in the winter to check these tubes as the dormice are hibernating, you pull out the ply insert and if you see this very distinctive nest in there you are guaranteed it's a dormouse nest," he added.
Graham said once evidence of the nests had been discovered, he secured a People's Trust for Endangered Species, PTES, grant for permanent nest boxes.
"We used a very active conservation volunteer group here who do a lot of work in the wood for The Woodland Trust," said Graham.
"They helped me put the boxes up and they're going to help me check them as well.
"The main thing they do for dormice here is manage the woodland. They're doing some thinning of trees and creating a habitat that's good for dormice," he added.
Graham trained to be a fully licensed dormouse monitor last year, and the site at Swan Wood is one of only 10 monitoring projects in the county.
There are a number of nest boxes in the wood for dormice
Passionate about wildlife Graham dedicates hours of his own time carrying out surveys of protected species like the dormouse.
"A lot of conservation organisations are very dependent on their volunteers, and volunteers are very happy to become involved," said Graham.
He added: "It's a job that everyone loves. It's a job you love to do. I'm very proud of what I do."