Doncaster Naturalists’ Society Excursion. 19th December 2020

Harvest Mouse Hunt at Auckley. 

Six of us had a very successful morning by the River Torne at Auckley searching for Harvest Mouse nests, mainly in Phalaris arundinacea with some in Phragmites australis and Glyceria maxima. We found 8 nests, 6 non-breeding nests for a single harvest mouse, and two much larger nursery nests. They were between 30 and 50 cm above the ground. The nests would have been used in the summer and now are laid down under collapsed vegetation. Most were along the narrow un-mown Torne riparian margin and therefore potentially vulnerable to periodic flooding.

Also, we found 2 Water Vole latrines, obviously well used, and a few sites with short pieces of grassblade, left by Water Voles. Excellent that these 2 elusive mammals are present there. The Harvest Mouse nests were collected for a researcher who will check the DNA left by the occupants.

Additional observations included – 1 grey squirrel in Auckley river-side park. 5 Long-tailed Tits; Blackbird; Carrion Crow; 1 Little Egret and 1 Grey Heron (working the river-side drains); 1 Kestrel (hovering over rough grassland); 1 Moorhen (in river); 1 Mute Swan (in the river); 28 + 8 Whooper swans (including a family group of grey plumage cygnets) feeding on a winter cereal crop in a field adjacent to Outam Wood.

Whilst marvelling at the orange and grey lichens festooning the hedgerow Blackthorns on Christine’s farm, we noticed a some of them were coming into flower
Joyce & Colin

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