Nest discovery causes a stir on reserve

There was great excitement on Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s East Chevington reserve yesterday, when a group of volunteers surveying for harvest mice found proof of their existence.
Harvest mouse nest - Sophie Webster

Harvest mouse nest at East Chevington. Image by: Sophie Webster.

The volunteers were gathering as much data about the site as part of the Catch My Drift project, which is working towards the improvement of the land and habitat for people and wildlife on the Druridge Bay reserve.

The project is funded by players of the National Lottery via a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In 2004, 205 harvest mice were introduced onto the 185-hectare reserve and, for the past week, volunteer surveyors, led by JBA Consulting, have been searching for their nests, which are the size of a tennis ball, among the reed beds.

There have been only a few records of a presence on the site since their release in 2004 with the last recorded sighting on the North East Environmental Records Information Centre dating back to 2009.

Imagine the delight of the volunteers when, after a 10 year gap, a harvest mouse nest was discovered and therefore confirmation that these enigmatic little rodents are living on the site.

Speaking about their discovery, Sophie Webster, Cath My Drift Project Assistant said: “The project has a great team of volunteers, so I was delighted when they discovered the nest yesterday. The discovery of the harvest mice will affect how the reed beds are managed and will be incorporated in the project’s future management plans.”

East Chevington reserve is on the site of a former drift mine, contains lakes, ponds, reed beds, woodland, pasture and arable farming. It is also important to local people who use the site as an area for walking and access to the beach.