Harvest mouse survey, Flintshire (2014)

As I pulled into the car park at Rhydymwyn, it began to snow.  I was already wearing thermals, full waterproofs and an insulating layer but now I pulled on my wellies and put on my mountain cap and new waterproof mittens.  It was time to harvest mouse survey.potential harvest mouse habitat

As you can see, the snow didn’t stick, so the group headed out valiantly into the rain to begin the fingertip search for harvest mouse nests in tussocky tall grass and reed canary-grass swamp.  I was pretty impressed with the turnout given the weather forecast (I’d asked my friend who lives nearer the site to text me if it snowed at her place…) and was not surprised to see many familiar faces among the crowd including mossers, natterjack toad surveyors and Dwyryd catchment otter surveyors.  Everybody loves harvest mice…

We were hunting for harvest mouse nests rather than the animals themselves, and it’s traditional to do this in winter, usually before Christmas, when the nests are less likely to be occupied.  This site was targeted because back in 2008 a harvest mouse nest was found in this grit bin:

the ACTUAL grit bin where the harvest mouse nest was found

Sadly we were not successful in refinding any evidence of harvest mouse on this occasion, although there are certainly plenty of field voles about, with lots of vole runs, nests, latrines and feeding sites and a couple of voles actually seen scampering away from the surveyors.  We also found plenty of molehills and evidence of rabbits so that’s three mammal records for the day at least 🙂

I leave you with a gratuitous harvest mouse pic, not mine, but by Richard Bowler (@RichardBowler1 on Twitter), just to show you what all the fuss was about:

harvest mouse by Richard Bowler

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