Back in January 2014 I became aware of the National Harvest Mouse Survey. I’d already missed the first survey season so was determined to join in for the second, in winter 2014. Unfortunately the survey has now shrunk to south-east England only as the Mammal Society are a bit short of cash, but I had already been given my home square by this stage, so decided to press on without support in search of mini mice:
As luck would have it there were two sites in my home square with fairly recent harvest mouse records – both early 2000s – and a third site at which harvest mice were reintroduced around the same time – so choosing survey sites was pretty easy. Arranging access was easy too as I was already familiar with all three sites. Thanks to Facebook I found some people wanting to join me on the survey and the stage was set for the rediscovery of wild harvest mice in Warrington.
On 15th November 11 harvest mousers searched the reedbeds alongside the river Mersey at Moore Nature Reserve. On 22nd November, 6 surveyors combed through the reeds at Bewsey Lock. And on 6th December, 6 surveyors investigated reedbeds along the river opposite Moore Nature Reserve at Gatewarth. All surveys were negative for harvest mouse 😦 although a friend assures me that she trapped loads of harvest mice at sites with only a few nests, which means they could still be there – just hiding.
It wasn’t a dead loss, though, we all had fun getting wet and muddy and there were some good wildlife records made including water vole feeding stations, a juvenile great crested newt, tons of bank/field vole latrines and all sort of other beasties. Here are some photos from the surveys:
My mission for next year is to survey some more sites in the local area for harvest mouse and actually find them this time !!!