News from Touching the Tide, a Lottery-funded Landscape Partnership Scheme, with project manager Bill Jenman.
Hidden nature is uncovered
Last Friday I was out with some local residents from Shingle Street, learning about the mammals that live in and around their homes. They’re interested in finding out more, and undertaking surveys of their own, to build up a better picture of the wildlife that lives in their area. They also want to know what’s at stake when decisions have to be taken about coast defence options in the future. Helping people to understand more about the heritage of the coast, and about coastal change, is just what Touching the Tide is for so we were happy to help.
Toby Abrehart had set some live traps out the night before. Our first find was a field vole, looking very sweet indeed with black sparkling eyes and a blunt friendly face. We all ooo-d and looked back at him as he peered out of his plastic viewing bag before we let him go again. Next up was a field mouse, much livelier, jumping wildly to escape (a later mouse did indeed escape, at one stage threatening to disappear up Toby’s trousers). He was also very cute, though; all whiskers and snuffling, twitching with nervous energy. Mice have a reputation for biting (yellow necked mice are particularly assertive with human fingers) so we were relieved to let him go.
We had caught more field voles and wood mice, but no other rodents or shrews. Walking around the surrounding fields we saw signs of deer, fox, and badger, and everyone sniffed at some otter spraint by the side of a large drainage ditch. Otter spraint (poo) is famously sweet smelling; I’d go with musky myself, but not at all unpleasant and certainly not poo-ey.
Later we looked at Toby’s collection of skulls which sounds macabre but they were fascinating. I’m a biologist by training but I’d never seen the exquisite beauty of a stoat or weasel skull before. They’re Ripley’s Aliens in miniature. Elongated heads, tiny faces, sharp sharp teeth not to be messed with.
We were privileged to see so much secret wildlife so close to where people live. It’s a privilege open to everyone who knows where to look though – hidden nature is all around us, just waiting to be revealed. The natural world is magical, and everyone left wanting to see more of it. Success! Thank you Lottery players – and do join us on another TtT excursion.