WHEN I RETURNED to work at the end of the garden this afternoon, I disturbed a small creature – smaller than a vole – that scurried around in the undergrowth beneath the hedge before disappearing into next door’s garden in a place where they have a large, and currently rather overgrown, pond.
It was blackish rather than brownish so, looking in the book, it is more like a Water Shrew than a Common Shrew, which is the species that I’d expect to see in our garden. I didn’t get a view of its head and I can’t be sure that I’ve drawn its tail in the correct proportions but I did get a good view of the blackish sausage-shaped body.
We’re near to Coxley Beck here and in at least three consecutive back gardens there are ponds, supporting reasonable numbers of frogs and newts which would provide suitable prey for a Water Shrew. Water Shrews are often found away from wetlands.
I’ve been splitting the clumps of Yellow Flag Iris that we removed from the pond, whittling down hulking blocks of root, rhizome and moss into manageable chunks. At first I tried hacking at them but I couldn’t make much impression on the springy mass of vegetation so I used two garden forks, stuck into the root-mass back-to-back, to lever them apart.
I’m know going to cut them up into fist-sized pieces before I put them on the compost heap.
Perhaps the mystery shrew had been checking out the debris. Blackbirds were pecking about amongst it later.