There is evidence of harvest mice at the Upton Heath Nature Reserve in Dorset for the first time.

Conservationists and volunteers at (DWT) were delighted to find the first evidence of harvest mice at the Upton Heath Nature Reserve in Corfe Mullen.

The first nest discovery was made at the reserve in Corfe Mullen by volunteer and Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) member Anna Smith in February. In March DWT staff found two more nests and were able to confirm them as evidence of the presence of harvest mice. This is the first official recording of harvest mice for the 191-hectare nature reserve, Upton Heath.

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Harvest mouse nest on Upton Heath. Photo: Jack Bedford

The harvest mouse is classified as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and is mostly found in central and southern England. They are the smallest rodents in Europe and the only British mammal to have a prehensile tail, able to grasp grass stems as they move through vegetation. They can be found in long tussocky grassland, reedbeds, hedgerows and around woodland edges, and build a spherical nest of tightly woven grass, high up amongst the tall grasses.

DWT’s assistant community conservation officer Jack Bedford said, “This is really exciting news and is indicative of the high-quality wildlife habitat at Upton Heath. We do know that harvest mice have been reported in the wider area, so we’re very pleased that this mammal has chosen to colonise the nature reserve there, where we can ensure that the habitat is managed sensitively as part of our ongoing work to look after the site for the benefit of wildlife and enjoyment of people."