Harvest mice in Britain, new research

This video says about itself:

9 November 2014

Eurasian Harvest Mice, Micromys minutus, adults feeding and female with young in the nest. They are the smallest rodents in Europe, weighing an average of just 6 grams. The tail is semi prehensile and is used like a fifth limb when climbing.

Nature, wildlife and macro video library clips shot in the UK by specialist cameraman Steve Downer. Filmed on a JVC HD110 camera, HD 720p.

From Wildlife Extra:

A novel way is developed to sniff out how many harvest mice live in the UK

The tiny harvest mouse will stand up and be counted with the help of a sensitive nose

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has awarded an ecological grant towards an innovative project headed by PhD researcher Emily Howard-Williams at Moulton College in Northamptonshire.

Her team will train Tui, a flat-coated retriever, to learn to detect the scent of harvest mice, making tracking their presence in the countryside easier and more efficient.

The harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) is one of the most elusive and smallest of mammals in Great Britain and finding their tell-tale signs can be a difficult and time-consuming exercise even for the experts.

Consequently it has proved frustratingly difficult to determine an accurate picture of their current numbers in the UK, up to now.

Typically found in cereal fields, reed beds and hedgerows, harvest mice are believed to have declined in the past 40 years as a result of changes to farming practices and habitat management.

However, to date there have been no reliable studies to quantify this change, and it is unclear as to exactly how many are currently left in the UK.

With the help of Tui, who was bred from working gun dogs, Emily’s team hopes to shed some light on this most iconic species of the British countryside.

As Emily explains, “The harvest mouse appears to have undergone significant declines in parts of the countryside, partly in response to the intensification of modern agriculture, but also due to habitat loss.

“Yet it still remains difficult to ascertain just how many there really are. The funding from PTES will help to train our resident harvest mouse detector dog, enabling us to determine whether using sniffer dogs is the best approach in tracking these creatures!”

Harvest mice create nests, woven amongst tall grasses or reeds, giving skilled trackers key indicators of their presence.

However, these can be hard to find, even for the most expert eye, and nests as well as other indicators can be difficult to locate.

With the aid of a trained dog, Emily’s team will be able to survey a site more rapidly, with less margin for error.

A similar method is already being successfully used in New Zealand to seek out kiwi birds. Two English setters managed to sniff out 30 birds in just four days.

Nida Al-Fulaij, Grants Manager from PTES concludes, “We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell.

“The UK enlists the help of sniffer dogs at airports, music festivals and in the army, so why not also use them for conservation purposes to find harvest mice.

“The trained eye may miss a harvest mouse nest, but a trained nose is much more likely to pick up on a familiar scent and alert the handler to the presence of recent harvest mice activity in that area.

“We are very excited to be funding this project and look forward to seeing what results reveal about harvest mice populations in the UK.”

Good British red squirrel news

This video from Germany is called Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).

From Wildlife Extra:

Red squirrels to benefit from a £1.2m National Lottery grant

A new project to help secure the future of the UK’s native red squirrel has been launched, thanks to a £1.2million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Called Red Squirrels United, it is a new four-year programme that brings together eight partners from across the UK. The project will deliver key national conservation objectives with the aim of protecting red squirrels through communication, education and conservation activities. It is supported by Government nature conservation agencies and the 32 organisations within the UK squirrel accord group.

Community-based rapid response teams will be created involving 1,250 volunteers who will be trained to conserve key red squirrel populations threatened by their interaction with non-native grey squirrels. These volunteers will be supported by partner organisation staff, building the large networks of red squirrel champions essential for conservation success.

Partners will maintain grey squirrel-free habitat where it already exists, for example on the island of Anglesey and in Kielder Forest in northern England; extend current red squirrel protection zones in mid-Wales and Merseyside and implement a new whole country approach in Northern Ireland. All conservation work will be rigorously monitored contributing to robust scientific research and evaluation to be undertaken by academic partners.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We’re delighted that HLF is supporting this fantastic project. Our beautiful native red squirrels deserve our protection in every part of the UK where they can still thrive. This investment will allow us to unite hundreds of people championing this charismatic creature into one UK force for good. It will build on decades of hard work and passionate commitment. Thank you to players of the National Lottery for allowing this.”

The plight of the red squirrel is now recognised in local, regional, national and international conservation policies – it is featured in the Bern Convention, it is a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) and the red squirrel is afforded the highest level of protection under UK law, the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Red squirrel strongholds are Scotland, the Lake District and Northumberland with some isolated, remnant populations further south in both England and Wales including Anglesey, Formby in Lancashire, Brownsea Island in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

Red squirrels are able to live in any type of woodland but in the UK they are now mostly confined to conifer forests where they have a competitive advantage over the larger greys. They do not hibernate. They bury nuts to help provide food in the winter to supplement the year round supply of conifer seeds in mixed broadleaf and coniferous woodland. Red squirrels build nests, called dreys, from sticks and moss placed high in the branches, where they produce two litters of three to four kittens a year. The drey is often the first evidence of the presence of red squirrels in a wood. Red squirrels can live for up to six years. Red squirrels are not always red. They can be brown, almost black, or even quite grey, and can become blonde due to bleaching by the summer sunlight.

Jeremy Corbyn elected British Labour leader, victory speech video

This video from Britain says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn elected Labour leader: victory speech in full

12 September 2015

“I say to the new members of the party, welcome to our movement. And to those returning to the party who were in it before and felt disillusioned and went away: welcome back, welcome home.”

Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first speech as leader of The Labour Party, after defeating his three rivals in the first round of counting, taking 251,417 (59.5%) of the 422,664 votes cast.

Congratulations, Jeremy! I hope this will be a signal in other countries (France, The Netherlands, etc.) to send rightist Blairite leaders of officially leftist parties packing.

I hope attempts of the Blairites in British Labour to destroy this democratic vote result with coups and intrigues against Corbyn will be thwarted by the Labour rank and file.

Corbyn has proved a fearless foe to a hostile right-wing press that’s determined to misrepresent him, writes RABBIL SIKDAR: here.