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Surrey Harvest Mouse Project
Surrey Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) ‘Harvest Mouse Project’ annual survey season has begun on Whitmoor Common (which is managed by SWT on behalf of Surrey County Council), and will continue on various reserves and other sites throughout Surrey. The 3 year intensive surveying project, part-funded by The People’s Trust for Endangered Species, will help determine the conservation status of the harvest mouse within Surrey and inform a strategy for safeguarding its future.
Very little is known about the harvest mouse (Micromys minutus), a species of conservation concern and Britain’s smallest rodent - weighing barely as much as a 2p coin! It is also something of a mystery, going about its secretive life largely undetected. You are highly unlikely to witness a harvest mouse in the wild but their summer breeding nest, a ball of shredded grass woven around several tall stalks, is far easier to find. Traditionally associated with hay meadows and arable crops, they are now more commonly recorded in wetland habitats such as flood plain grazing meadow, reed and sedge beds and other riparian habitats.
Eight new sites were surveyed during autumn/winter 2011 and twenty five harvest mice were found across six of them. By undertaking surveys we aim to advance our knowledge of the conservation status of the harvest mouse. The new data will inform future practical management of different sites across Surrey, both in enhancing existing and creating new habitats, to safeguard harvest mouse populations. SWT will be trialing various new methods of detection, combined with proven techniques such as nest-searching on both known sites and new ones. Harvest mice are often preyed on by birds of prey, especially owls, and so owl pellets can be a useful source of new records.
Dave Williams, Mammal Project Officer, says: “We will be conducting surveys on 12 sites between September and December 2012 across sites in Surrey. If you are interested in helping us out on site or would like to be trained to find evidence of harvest mice close to where you live, please get in touch. We would also like to hear from you if you see a harvest mouse or its nest, or if you find owl pellets out on your walk or know of a roost where we can collect pellets. Please contact myself or Jim Jones on 01483 795440.”
The autumn programme starts on Monday 10th September at Whitmoor Common and SWT are looking for volunteers to help set up and check the harvest mouse traps.
The meeting point is in the car park off Salt Box Road, Worplesdon, see link to map HERE.
We will be setting up at 5.00pm on Monday evening. Traps are then checked each morning, Tuesday to Saturday at 6.30am.
Traps are checked again each lunchtime from Tuesday to Friday at 12.30pm and again at 6.30pm.
All help is appreciated.
Please wear suitable clothing and footwear as there will be some thick grassy areas to walk through. Bring a camera if you want to. Each session takes about 1hr or so depending on how many animals we find in the traps. There will be a total of 60 traps to check.
|Date published:||Monday 10 September 2012|