Life in a bag

Have you ever heard of bag moths? They are not literally moths in a bag, rather caterpillars in a bag, or a case. Until I stumbled on a specimen at Dunedin Botanic Gardens the other morning, I had never heard of them, let alone seen one. What at first looked like a twig was rustling on a shrub beside me. As I looked closely, the head of a fat caterpillar popped up from it.

The larva was simultaneously hanging on to a leaf and hooked onto its twig-like bag from the inside thanks to its tiny prolegs— Continue reading

Week of the mouse

Mice are tiny, incredibly fast and often live in concealed areas, which makes them quite hard to sight. This week, I have been lucky to spot two of them: a wood mouse (above photo) and a common shrew—which technically is neither a mouse nor a rodent as it belongs to the mole family.

I found the shrew unwell in the middle of the sidewalk and nearly stepped on it. I fetched it, placed it in a warm box and gave it some Continue reading

A discrete life by the stream

Wildlife sometimes lives where you least suspect it. You visit a place for months and see nothing until one day something pops up, seemingly out of nowhere. This little water vole inhabits a stream that I have passed many times without ever noticing it, probably because it moves around quickly Continue reading

One shelter for two squirrels

The red squirrel that recently visited my balcony decided to build himself a shelter on the ledge of a nearby window.

Made of moss, hay and pillow filling material laid on a bed of dead Boston-ivy leaves, the round-shaped construction looks cozy but too tight to fit more than one. It was put together in just a few hours—sometimes between the moment I sighted the critter, around lunch time, and the next morning.

What is the exact purpose and nature of this hastily erected retreat: winter shelter, den, nest, drey? I was unable to match it with anything I found online. It would be too small to welcome a brood and the location is definitely hazardous―the store from the neighbor’s window could be fatal if shut down and it is not well protected against the wind.

Since he “moved in”, the rodent has made regular appearances. He goes out during the day to forage in the area around my block and returns “home” before sunset. He is sometimes absent so I suspect he may have another shelter. He often rests inside his retreat with his little nose out to keep careful watch on his surroundings.

To my surprise, another squirrel came to my balcony this morning. Continue reading

A shelter for a blackbird chick

This Blackbird juvenile was fetched, unwell, on the side of the road, taken care of and released where it was found a couple days later. The parents took no more than 20 minutes find the fledgling after hearing his high pitched calls. They instantly recognized and welcoming him back. Before these pictures were taken, the hungry fledgling was given some banana-plum mix; some leftovers can be seen on the tip of its large bill.

You can read more about Blackbirds here.

Location: Bayreuth, Germany