Furry little fellow thrills nature fans

Malvern Gazette: DISCOVERY: The harvest mouse has returned to the hills. DISCOVERY: The harvest mouse has returned to the hills.

CONSERVATIONISTS are celebrating after evidence of Britain’s smallest mammal has once again been found on the Malvern Hills.

Not even a squeak had been heard from the tiny harvest mouse until Malvern Hills Conservators volunteers discovered a nest during recent scrub clearance work.

The nest – only about the size of a cricket ball – was found weaved among stalks of long grass by the volunteer work party.

Experts hope the discovery is a sign that the tiny creatures – a high conservation priority due to a sharp decline in numbers in recent years – is a sign they may be much more widely present on the hills.

The Conservators have now signed up to a ‘mini mammal monitoring’ project organised by the Mammal Society, which entails searching areas for signs of voles and harvest mice on the hills. This will take place over the coming weeks and every winter from now on.

Conservators warden Nicky Quinn said: “We are very excited to find evidence of harvest mice on the hills and hopefully we will find more signs of them during our surveys this November.

“The area that the nest was found in has been managed for many years by our conservation volunteer group and it is great for them and the staff to see all that hard work paying off.”

Nationally, very little is known about harvest mice numbers and whereabouts and ecologist Johnny Birks, the Mammal Society’s Malvern- based chairman, is encouraging people to help find out more.

“It’s amazing that we know so little about these gorgeous, tiny mammals, and I’m very excited by this new evidence that they are present on the Malvern Hills,”

he said.

”I shall certainly be signing up to help with the national survey in the hope that we can learn more about their status and distribution.”

Anyone who would like more information can contact Beck Baker, deputy conservation officer for the Conservators, on 01684 892002 or e-mail beck@malvernhills.



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