With promise of a rather damp day ahead it seemed unlikely that we would be inundated with visitors, so it was pleasant to meet a few hardy souls who had forgone the ‘pleasures’ of Jubilee celebrations to see what they could find around the reserve. Not a lot to report on the bird front, although more than one visitor reported seeing Egyptian Geese with up to seven youngsters by the edge of Ibsley Water.
As befits a wildlife reserve it’s probably appropriate that we ‘suffer’ from the attention of small furry animals from time to time. It’s currently part of the regular regime each day to check the mouse trap in the loft of the education centre and return any mice that are caught back into the wild. Yet another of my ‘blank spots’ ( there are so many) is small mammal identification so I couldn’t tell you what was caught last night, save that it was a small, rich orange brown colour with probably white underparts, a long tail and a very pointed face, unlike the one I released on Saturday which was much darker. Both shot out of the trap when opened, so photography was out of the question.
Bob’s recently commissioned ‘mousecam’ in the compost bin has, however, provided the opportunity to see some mice, doing what mice do best, ‘snapping up ill-considered trifles’ that we have discarded.
The somewhat colourful, striped nature of the image is what results from taking pictures off of a television screen, many of my other efforts were much worse. This was a very brave/foolhardy mouse as a rather large grass snake was seen in this compost bin about twenty minutes beforehand.
There’s an old riddle ‘ What’s grey with a big trunk?’ , to which, unthinkingly, you might reply ‘elephant’, but to which the correct response is ‘ a mouse going on its holidays’ . The mice we release from our trap don’t have any baggage with them, even though I suppose they are on a sort of holiday. The moth trap, on the other hand, did produce an elephant in the form of this rather handsome Elephant Hawkmoth
– so named, not because its large for a moth, which it is, but because the caterpillar has a ‘trunk’,
One moth that does have a sort of trunk, well a rather pointy front end anyway, is this aptly named Snout
And while we’re on the subject of moth names I’ll finish with a couple of moths from last night’s trap, the very appropriately named Green Carpet,
where even this slightly faded specimen shows the colour and the reason for its name. The colour can eventually fade completely, but the other markings make identification fairly easy.
The name of the Cinnabar is slightly less obvious, unless you know that cinnabar, the naturally occurring ore of the metal mercury, is bright red (scarlet) as shown on the moth.