Saturday, August 14, 2010

Meet the wildlife:

A young hedgehog recently paid us a visit: a rare pleasure to see this usually nocturnal creature. It was slowly ambling along open pasture, quite the smallest hedgehog I’ve ever seen. It has been very dry recently, so we thought it a good idea to offer it a saucer of water (we’ve read that milk can give them diarrhoea) and a snack. It tucked into the cat biscuits, had a good slurp and then turned around and wandered off.

A young boy's interest in small crawling things seems not to extend much further than a wish to squash them. Horrible things. (Young boys, that is). Age and circumstance has made this particular boy look on these fascinating creatures in a new light. They seem to be big enough and slow enough for me to get a good look at, so that I can have a stab at identifying them. Whilst processing some firewood the other day, we came across this orange version.

My pocket-sized Collins gem guide to Insects got me the Cardinal Beetle and I thought I had my man (or lady?) but, on closer examination, there are a couple of differences. Considering that there are as many, and maybe more than 350,000 different species of beetle, a couple of differences is sure to mean a different Latin name. The lower legs of our one are orange and the hard front wings—elytra—don’t get wider towards the rear as do those of a cardinal beetle. If you are an expert coleopterist or otherwise know what our beastie is, please tell us by posting a comment.

And lastly, not so much wildlife as we deliberately introduced six roach into our wildlife pond back in April. No time has been lost in the watery world of fishy friendships as we are proud parents of about a thousand fry. They seem to be interested in Gabrielle’s feet and Gabrielle is equally interested in their piscatorial pedicure. If it works, we’ll offer it as an additional service to our holidaymakers, much like goat massage we used to offer.