Death-Traps and Habitats

Living close to a restored stretch of the Wilts & Berks Canal – and living on the line of the old canal – the area attracts plenty of birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately for our neighbours, some unwelcome wildlife decided to make their home in the roof space of their shed.

On Sunday, we noticed a large insect, too large to be a bumble bee. It was a hornet, visiting our pond and returning to a hole on next-door’s shed wall. By 11 on Monday, the pest control expert arrived with an adapted fishing-rod and sprayed some nasty white powder into the void and around the entrance. We were assured that hornets returning to the next would either be repelled, or would come into contact with the powder and die within a couple of hours.

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While we were waiting for hornets to return, several of which did so, we stayed at a 20170620_082112distance by our pond. Something stirred.

A year ago, we’d decided that we would give the fish away and leave the pond purely as a decorative feature with its gentle waterfall.

We drained it and cleared it out, leaving a few plants and adding a few more. It seems that somehow, over the past year, at least one newt had decided to make the pond its home. We saw it – and some tadpoles – several times during the day, and although we were unable to photograph it, I managed a couple of short videos; it’s just visible in these stills, to the right of a plastic plant-pot handle.

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How did they get there? Do they go systematically from the restored canal through back gardens in search of a pond?

Late in the evening we had another visitor, this time on the patio: a slow-worm. Again, how did it get there?

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This morning, by the restored canal, I saw a water-vole cross to the north side carrying a leaf from a yellow-flowered water lily past a large clump of white-flowered water-lily leaves which would have been far too large to carry. No chance to photograph it, but I had snapped the white water lilies on Monday morning. It’s adorned with dozens of large white flowers.

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Soon after seeing the water-vole, I found a discarded plastic drink container which had 20170620_082236turned into a death-trap.

It still had some orange juice in it which had attracted a field mouse which crawled in and died.

I found another container a few yards further on, thankfully empty.

The holes in the plastic tops are just large enough for a small 20170619_113225mouse – and about the same size as the hole created by the hornets in next door’s shed. Full circle.

 

 

 

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