'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

If comments are proving difficult to do, please email me; sleepysparrow@yahoo.co.uk

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Hidden Kingdoms - in Rhydymwyn

It was like a scene from one of those dark crime dramas on telly.  We lined up, a meter apart and began systematically combing through the rough grass, parting the soggy tussocks with wet gloves, searching for clues, like a police forensic team.  Falling sleet and a raven's hollow 'kronk' added to the crime thriller atmosphere.
A scene from Silent Witness?
But we weren't looking for anything gruesome, just the golf-ball sized nests of the harvest mouse, Europe's smallest mammal.  The mouse is no bigger than a wine cork,weighs the same as a 20 pence piece and is the only mouse with a prehensile tail for clinging on to the stems of wheat and tall grasses.
Non-breeding harvest mouse nest, custard cream for scale
They are seriously under-recorded and the Mammal Society need volunteers to survey for nests during the winter of 2014. We were gathered on this finger-numbing day to learn how to look and what to look for. Winter is the best time to search so as not to disturb their breeding and because they are easier to find. 
Needless to say, we didn't find any, though someone did find a golf ball in the long grass. Never mind, we found lots of vole nest, tunnels and latrines and it was wonderful to get a vole's eye view of the world and glimpse a tiny bit of their lives. Thankfully there were no kestrels hovering nearby
If you've enjoyed watching Hidden Kingdoms on BBC1, get involved in a harvest mouse survey and catch a glimpse of the hidden world in a field near you.

www.mammal.org.uk/harvestmouse_survey (The Mammal Society)
www.miseproject.ie   (Mammals in a Sustainable Environment)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic write up Sarah! It was lovely to meet you. Hope to see you on the owl pellet day on the 22nd February. Best wishes Mandi & Bill Taylor