Last weekend I found myself face to face with this gorgeous little harvest mouse. I’ve never met one before – he was so tiny! He also wasn’t very keen on staying still, so all my photos are rather blurry – pop over here for some better ones.
I’d managed to volunteer myself to help out at the Barnsley Bioblitz. A bioblitz is a survey of an area, with lots of people all coming together to identify and record as many species as they can in a short space of time. You can read more about them here. I’d volunteered on a whim – in the two years since we joined the local natural history society, the only event I’ve been to is a talk about woodlice (very enjoyable), and I thought it was about time I did something else.
I know very little about wildlife of any sort, although I’d love to know more. I can identify most common birds, and a fair few trees, and some flowers, but that’s about it. I only know the common name, and so was a little daunted to find the books of species listed alphabetically by latin name… However, I’d been told I didn’t need to know anything other than how to wield a felt pen, and fortunately there were plenty of experts round to help.
Through the day, people popped in on their way into and out of the nature reserve. The children were fascinated by the harvest mouse (one of them named him Harvey – an excellent name). People brought moths in tubs for us to identify. One of the natural history society people came back with a very dead, very smelly crayfish. A small girl brought what looked like an empty jar… ‘I tried to catch a butterfly but it flew away… I caught something else though’… we identified it as a greenfly, then carefully let it go. Families came to tell us what they’d seen in their gardens. One boy was very excited to be the first person to have seen a frog all weekend.
I had an unusual, and very lovely day. There’s something special about being in the company of enthusiasts, whatever they’re enthusiastic about. I think sometimes you learn more by hanging round with people who know about things than you do by reading even the best reference books.
I’m now busy looking through the latest newsletter to see what else I can go to. Het bugs identification workshop? A talk on mammal bones? Watch this space…