More harvest mouse surveys!

It’s well known that you cant spend too much time looking for harvest mice – searching long grass doesn’t make you go cross-eyed!

The second of this season’s harvest mouse nest searches was another success, with  20 nests of varying ages found on arable farmland close to Swallowcliffe, near Tisbury in South Wiltshire; a part of the county previously lacking records. And in beautiful sunshine too!

With thanks to Lisa, Michelle, Paul, Gemma and Richard for today’s efforts – great work team! And to Perin and Sonja for making us so welcome.

The next survey event will be the 11th November 2017 in Broadchalke, South Wiltshire. If you’d like to get involved please see further information here; email us on to register your interest.


Harvest mouse nest, nr Swallowcliffe, S. Wiltshire (C) G. Harris




Wiltshire Bat Group meeting, 9th November 2017

The next Wiltshire Bat Group meeting will be on Thursday 9th November, 7pm at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s offices in Devizes. The meeting is open to anyone interested in supporting or getting involved in bat conservation in Wiltshire. There will be a short talk by Dr Dani Linton followed by some project updates before adjourning to a nearby pub in Devizes.

The meeting will start promptly at 7pm – please bear in mind that the meeting room is on an upstairs floor and so the front door of the building must be locked during the meeting. If you can avoid running late that would be great if – but in the event anyone is unavoidably running late, a phone number will be posted on the notice board by the door to call for you to be let in!

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust offices, Elm Tree Court may be found off Long Street, Devizes SN10 1NJ. There will be parking available here, or nearby in town. If you’ve not been here before, allow yourself extra time to find it – the access into Elm Tree Court is easily missed.

Noctule bat at the Big Bat Bonanza, Savernake Forest, August 2017 (c) G Harris

Harvest Mouse Surveys……..

Today, WMG completed the first of four survey events, searching for the nests of harvest mice in areas currently lacking records.

The recently-published Mammals in Wiltshire, second edition, highlighted that in recent years the harvest mouse has been very poorly recorded in Wiltshire – and yet, every targeted nest survey that we’ve undertaken has found them!

Todays survey, near Coombe Bissett, Salisbury, found 16 nests of harvest mice, including many which were still green and freshly-woven. We also recorded brown hare, roe deer, field vole nests, badger, fox, rabbit and roe deer, as well as grey partridge, linnet, skylark and stonechat.

Today’s survey produced new records for harvest mice in a part of the county previously lacking in records. A great outcome.

Thank you to Richard and Katie Jowett, Bake Farm Fruit Farm, Coombe Bissett, for the warm welcome, and to Simon Smart of Black Sheep Consulting for facilitating the visit. And, of course, the star surveyors – Simon, Lisa, Jenny, Annette and Paul.

The next survey will be on the 28th October, for more information see here. The more the merrier!


harvest mouse nest (C) G Harris
harvest mouse nest (C) G Harris


Volunteer at WSBRC

Wiltshire & Swindon Biological Records Centre (WSBRC) depends on volunteers for a range of activities it undertakes, not least in supplying species records. Office volunteers make a crucial contribution by supporting the day to day data management tasks WSBRC performs.


Without volunteers helping with data capture and checking, your records would much longer to get onto the county database and from it be available for data searches, partner updates, atlases and the many other uses biological data is put to.

We also need support for our Map the Gap project, so if you fancy learning more about habitat mapping and how to use MapInfo GIS then this might be the volunteer opportunity for you!

To find out more visit the WSBRC volunteering page.


Harvest mouse surveys – helpers needed! UPDATE #3!

During coming weeks Wiltshire Mammal Group, and a few of its friends, will be delivering a series of surveys for harvest mice across Wiltshire.

The recently-published Mammals in Wiltshire, second edition, highlighted that in recent years the harvest mouse has been very poorly recorded in Wiltshire – and yet, every targeted nest survey that we’ve undertaken has found them!

We are once again teaming up with Simon and Jemma from Black Sheep Consulting, identifying a series of landholdings in areas where we lack recent harvest mouse records.

harvest mouse nest in field margin, Easterton, Wiltshire (c) G Harris.


We need your help please! With plenty of helpers we can cover more ground on each landholding and record more nests and, indeed, other wildlife!

The first date will be Saturday 14th October, a farm near Coombe Bissett, Salisbury.

Saturday 28th October – a farm near Swallowcliffe, Tisbury.

Saturday 11th November – near Broadchalke, Salisbury

Saturday 18th November – location to be confirmed.

On each occasion we’ll meet at 10am; we’ll provide directions to the farm and meeting place. to those who contact us and confirm their attendance. The surveys will take 3 hours or more, depending on enthusiasm levels, but the scale of the landholdings and the welcome we typically receive are very encouraging! Its worth bringing lunch and refreshments just in case. 

If you’d like to get involved please get in touch. We’ll release more detail very shortly. We’ll be asking participants to “book” on to each event to ensure we have contact details for everyone to ensure everyone receives directions etc.

No experience necessary but be prepared to walk a short distance across rough ground and to enjoy the great British autumnal weather! All training will be provided! Just bring energy and enthusiasm!

If you’d like to get involved, please email (don’t reply to this website or contact us via facebook – please just email us).

Shout out to members of WBG

A shout out to members of Wiltshire Bat Group:

Many WBG members join the group by paying cash or by bank standing order (standing orders are preferred as they are easier for us to administrate!).

However, a small number of members have joined without providing any contact details (for example by setting up standing orders without telling us who they are!), or haven’t provided updated contact details if they’ve changed.

If you believe you are a member, but are not receiving regular updates and information from our Secretary, it is because we don’t have your up-to-date email address.

We have over 170 members, but only contact email addresses for around 150. If you want to get our updates via email please contact us on, and we’ll make sure our records are updated.

Thanks! WP.

A plea for more owl pellets!

WMG’s owl pellet analysis project, run by Paul Wexler, is going spectacularly well, generating some fascinating species records for the atlas project and involving a number of folk in the analyses. Thank you to all who are participating.

We need more pellets please! If you are able to collect pellets from any owls and raptors in Wiltshire (either near breeding sites or roosts or plucking posts), we’d be grateful to receive samples, noting the bird species, a 6 figure grid reference and date of collection. Please collect a dozen or so of the freshest pellets. Please don’t disturb nesting sites during the breeding season unless you are suitably licensed or involved in specific monitoring projects – it may be possible to collect pellets from below nestboxes on the floor of buildings for example, without causing any disturbance.

For more information, please contact us – Batches of pellets can be posted to Paul Wexler c/o Wiltshire College Lackham, Lacock, nr Chippenham SN15 2NY or contact us for advice regarding storage of pellets.

Thanks. GH.

It’s finished! Mammals in Wiltshire, 2nd Edition

It is with great pleasure that we announce the completion of the new atlas, entitled, Mammals in Wiltshire, 2nd Edition.

The new atlas can be downloaded here, free of charge. Mammals in Wiltshire_2nd edition_ver 1.0

The intention has been to produce a freely-accessible web-based document to ensure the information is widely available, not least to the many recorders and organisations contributing to its production. Furthermore, such a document can be easily updated in the near future as new survey findings and data are added. The version number and future additions will be listed in the introductory pages of the document.Atlas Cover

This publication has been supported by Wiltshire Natural History Publications Trust, whose grant supported the map production and data management by WSBRC. Huge thanks are extended to the many other contributors, including those writing species accounts, capturing data, surveying and submitting records and to Dr Fiona Mathews and Dr Patrick Dillon for providing their insights for the foreword.

There has been a huge effort since 2013 to deliver this work. To assist with more of this work by Wiltshire Mammal Group, Wiltshire Bat Group and WSBRC, we’d be grateful if you could make a donation using this link. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust are kindly hosting this donation page and all funding will be administered by WSBRC to support future atlas projects as well as bat group and mammal group projects.

Make a donation

Suggested donation – £10 for individuals, £25 for ecological consultancies and other organisations.

It is hoped that this atlas will help to promote the importance of the county, its habitats and mammal species, to a wider audience, promoting the importance of safeguarding important sites for mammals, now and in the future, to local planning authorities, statutory bodies such as Natural England and Environment Agency, as well as nature reserve managers across the county. This includes those sites where mammals are the feature of interest for designated sites, for example the bat species listed on the Special Areas of Conservation at Bath & Bradford-on-Avon and Chilmark Quarries, and Dormice included as features of the Savernake Forest SSSI.

Wiltshire is an incredible county supporting significant numbers of many of the UK’s species of conservation, ranging from recovering populations of Otters and Polecat, to Brown Hare, Water vole, Harvest Mice and Hedgehog. The county also supports nationally and internationally-important sites for bats (such as the SACs mentioned above). Furthermore, recent surveys are highlighting important populations of rare woodland bats such as Bechstein’s and Barbastelle bats.

Help support your local mammal populations, whether by supporting the Hedgehogs in your garden, or supporting the survey work by the mammal group and bat group.

The atlas project may complete, but we still need to continue the survey and monitoring of mammals across Wiltshire – we will deliver updates to the atlas as we make new significant discoveries and advances in knowledge. Please keep submitting your records.

Further information here.

Happy reading!

Conserving all Wiltshire & Swindon's mammals