Of Mice and Wren

With a calm, overcast night last night I was hoping for a reasonable range of moth species in the light trap. One of  my first activities on arriving is to disconnect the light and cover up the trap before going round to open up the hides, Today, however, there was what I can only describe as a ‘scuttling’ sound as I moved the light – our resourceful, moth eating wren was back.  Scrambling to free the bird, I lost a few of the moths as the wren retreated deeper under the egg boxes before eventually flying out into the nearby bushes. From the few loose moth wings and bird poo in the trap, I think a few moths had succumbed to the wrens appetite, but nevertheless there were still  over forty moths representing fifteen species.

I know Jim had a couple of Sallow moths yesterday, so I thought I’d add a picture of their cousin – Barred Sallow

Rather well-marked Barred Sallow

and a fine example of a rather richly marked Common Marbled Carpet

Common Marbled Carpet

Light traps are a little indiscriminate in what they attract and as well as moths there are usually huge numbers of midges and often some beetles. Today’s prize for the most colourful one goes to this Sexton Beetle.

Sexton or burying beetle

I very gingerly tapped this out from the egg box in which it was nestling  as previous experience has taught me that heavy handling of these beetles makes them exude the most disgusting odour – similar to that of the corpses that they locate, by smell, and then bury. I think they either eat the corpse or use it to provide food for their offspring, by laying their eggs on them.

Other insects were ‘out and about’, but the slightly lower temperature and lack of sun meant they weren’t quite so active. Fortunately this meant that those that were about would sometimes ‘hang-up’ conveniently to have their pictures taken, as was the case with this Golden-ringed Dragonfly, which was spotted by a visitor on a log at the side of the Centre car-park.  (N.B. the dragonfly, not the visitor, was on the log ).

Golden-ringed Dragonfly on log by Centre car-park

Apart from the wren, another unwelcome ‘guest’ or guests are the mice that from time-to-time inhabit the loft space of the centre. As they might chew through wiring or otherwise damage items in store, we regularly set out a baited, humane trap so that they can be captured and released some distance away from the centre. This can be a fairly regular procedure , but whether it is the same few mice involved or a continuous stream of ‘new’ ones isn’t clear. If it’s the same ones I  wonder whether they have become habituated to being ‘transported’ in exchange for some easy pickings of food from the trap. This then starts to pose the question of whether the mice would be there if weren’t for the food in the trap to attract them – but we wouldn’t know they were there without the trap to catch them….and so on!!!…. Surely this way lies madness!

Several months ago I published an image of one mouse just before it was  ‘releasd back into the community’, with a fanciful caption indicating that it was apparently begging for its freedom. Today’s mouse looked rather plaintive as well!!! 

Another pleading mouse

Bird interest is starting to pick up after the usual late summer downturn. Plenty of hirundine (swallow and house martin) activity over Ivy Lake as I opened up. Numbers of duck are increasing as gadwall start to return, I also caught a grey heron, in reflective mood, behaving more like a wader- up to its thighs in water.

Grey heron – in reflective mood.

On Tuesday I’ll be standing in to lead a walk called ‘ Going for Gold’ with the subtitle ‘a 50 bird challenge’. So tomorrow I think I might just do a recce to check where we might find them all — watch this space for news.

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