On the 19th October Francesca Pella explains how the partnership between the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and Selborne farmers helped to boost the population of the Harvest Mouse, in the very village that they were identified by Gilbert White. The talk will be held at the Gilbert White Field Studies Centre at 6:30pm.
Back in January 2016 Selborne was in the spotlight as the country celebrated the ‘return of the Harvest Mouse in Selborne’, whilst the Harvest Mouse was never really gone, the proof that the Harvest Mouse’s population had increased is definitely cause to celebrate. In 2014 the GWCT arranged an initial meeting in Selborne with a small group of key stakeholders, in order to discuss the creation of a farm cluster. Soon this initiative involved other stakeholders and the group was named the “Selborne Landscape Partnership”. The Harvest Mouse (Micromys minutus, Pallas 1771) Monitoring Initiative is one of the first outcomes of this partnership, which involves local farmers, the South Downs National Park, the GWCT, volunteers and others. Before the survey began, only one old record (1999) was known in the Hampshire records centre. The first Harvest Mouse surveys were carried out during the autumns-winters of 2014 and 2015, within an area of 91 square-km around Selborne. Pella along with the Selborne Landscape Partnership recorded 165 nests in 10 squares in 2014 and 317 nests in 18 squares in 2015 (30.8% of the monitoring area).
This is a particularly special event for us, as it was Gilbert White who first identified that the Harvest Mouse was a separate species in Selborne in November 1767. ‘[…] I make no doubt but that the species is nondescript. They are much smaller and more slender than the mus domesticus medius of Ray; and have more of the squirrel or dormouse colour: their belly is white, a straight line along their sides divides the shades of their back and belly.’ The discovery of the Harvest Mouse is one of many notable observations that White made during his life.