wood mouse

'Cow'rin, tim'rous beastie'

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Friday 11th February 2000

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mug shot IT'S WARM ENOUGH to sit by the pond with a mug of home-made, home-grown, 100 per cent organic leek and potato soup. Frogs have already begun to appear in some garden ponds in the suburbs of Wakefield, but not here, as yet. Perhaps our north-facing slope holds things back a bit.

water snail There's no sign of Newts either. Today there's just a pond snail, grazing on algae on the pebbles.

wood mouse I'm sorry to see a Wood Mouse (also known a Long-tailed Fieldmouse) huddled up, eyes closed, out in the open on the patio. An hour or two later it is dead. I saw another, dead, in the greenhouse the other day. A neighbour is controlling Brown Rats using poison bait. Although the bait is left in potential rat-runs, well out of reach of birds and pets, there is unfortunately no way of preventing the wood mice from reaching it.

Robert Burns (1759-1796) wrote his poem To a Mouse after 'turning her up in her nest with the plough, November 1785'. His words seem just as pertinent today;

young wood mouse, autumn

'I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
An' fellow mortal!'

'. . . The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.'


chickweed and shepherd's purse Chickweed and Shepherd's Purse have been green, and with some hint of flowers, all through the winter on the canal bank, in a place where storm surges occasionally force raw sewage up out of the manhole covers. The rich disturbed soil suits these weeds of cultivation.

shepherd's purse seed capsule Shepherd's Purse gets its name from the heart-shaped seed-pods, each of which hold tiny coin-like seeds.

ripples It's now light until well after five. I look forward to being able to get out on an evening again. Today, apart from a Song Thrush singing, there's little sign of wildlife during my few minutes' walk along the towpath, but I appreciate a brief glance of the water surface stirred into ripples by a breeze as the light fades.

Kessie Kessie is running around the meadow in her second-best horse blanket. The garment has been ripped by thorns or barbed wire and the down lining is hanging out, like an anorak turned to rags.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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