Earthworm Sprinting


MEANWHILE in the meadow all is harmony. Well, that’s not strictly true, it’s more like the tense calm in the build up to the big three-way shoot-out at the climax of a spaghetti western. Two new ponies appeared in the meadow yesterday and you wouldn’t expect Biscuit, the resident, to share and share alike.

ponyThey appeared to be grazing happily together but then when they got down to the bottom corner there was some kind of disagreement. Biscuit chased the smallest pony, trying to bite it on its hindquarters. The small pony kicked its hind legs as it galloped away.

This morning the small pony was grazing some distance away from the other two, although when something surprised it at the top end of the field it galloped back to join them.

BiscuitBiscuit’s plan seems to be to control the water supply. The other newcomer, the pony with a white flash and white socks on its hind legs, had taken a short break from grazing to drink from the plastic bath (it’s turquoise) that serves as their water trough. The small pony also made a move towards the bath.

At this stage Biscuit appeared to notice what was happening and he swaggered towards the bath to take a drink. He’s a stocky horse, especially compared to the smaller pony.

It was rather like the saloon scene in a spaghetti western.

Mole Hills

mole activityGood news about those ‘rats’. It looks as though, although we might have the odd sign of rat activity further down the garden, the concentration of excavations around the bird table are the work of moles.

This morning Barbara spotted a pink thing wriggling near one of the little mounds. No, it wasn’t a rat’s tail; it was a large worm, risking its life by coming to the surface in the daylight.

There was soil movement a few inches away from it and something grabbed the worm and attempted to pull it underground.

Somehow the worm escaped and did the equivalent of an earthworm Olympic sprint. It headed off and, I guess in less than a couple of minutes, made off in a straight line to the edge of the patio, a distance of about five feet. It didn’t use the S-shaped wriggling motion that you might associate with an earthworm and instead stretched out in a straight line. A worm in a hurry.

There was more earth movement amongst the mounds but we never glimpsed the creature that was burrowing.

moleI’m not saying that the omnivorous rat wouldn’t occasionally hunt worms but I feel that it would have been willing to emerge at the surface momentarily to catch this prize specimen. What we saw was precisely the behaviour that you’d expect of a mole. I moved the bird feeders a week or more ago so spilt sunflower hearts are no longer the attraction. I think that the spilt husks and the droppings of birds such as the pheasants must have built up the fertility of the soil here, resulting in a growing population of earthworms, which would attract any mole that happened to be passing through our garden.

And if I saw a series of little mounds anywhere else I wouldn’t hesitate to identify them as mole hills. Rat burrows, I feel, would normally have an entrance somewhere but no holes have appeared in this part of the garden.

catBarbara had watched earlier as the small grey cat that visits our garden closely observed the earth movements. Cats traditionally chase rodents but this one, which is young and playful, would equally take an interest in a mole.

A few days ago I watched this cat, which reminds me of Tom from Tom and Jerry, on our lawn having great fun stalking, pouncing and playing with a pigeons feather.

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