My rescue missions in the wood pile

PUBLISHED: 16:01 20 February 2018

Pam Taylor's need to gather in more wood from her log pile has uncovered some sheltering wildlife.

Pam Taylor's need to gather in more wood from her log pile has uncovered some sheltering wildlife.

(c) copyright

Nature: Pam Taylor finds herself with an unexpected series of rescues to perform.

I seem to have been in rescue mode recently. Throughout the colder weeks of winter I have been adding the warmth of a log burner to my standard heating. This has meant raiding the wood pile on a regular basis. Until the last few days all I’ve come across in the pile is logs. Now, various forms of wildlife have begun to turn up as well.

First I came across a couple of torpid peacock butterflies which I carefully rehomed in the shed next to others I’d found hibernating there. Next I came across a chrysalis which I tucked below some debris in a corner to await spring. My third discovery, right at the bottom of one stack, was a smooth newt.

I couldn’t leave it exposed, so I scooped it up into my palm. It felt cold to the touch and was quite stiff, so I feared it was dead, but no, a toe moved. Unlike the butterflies I couldn’t just tuck it in with others of its kind. I had to think of another solution. Rightly or wrongly I decided to warm it up in my hands until it was just capable of movement. It didn’t take long.

The heat of my hands and a little warm breath blown on its back soon had it aware of its surroundings. Not wishing to disturb it again later this winter in the woodpile, I took it instead to a old pile of bricks. Here I found a crevice and held the newt facing into the dark slit. Taking the hint, the newt headed slowly into safety, away from prying eyes. Feeling that I had done all I could for its survival, I left it in peace and returned to collecting logs.

My final rescue was rather less dramatic, but more amusing. As I removed the gradually decaying wooden lid from the water butt to fill a small watering can, several tiny creatures suddenly jumped onto the water’s surface. They were obviously alive, but so small I had to study one with a hand lens after saving the others. The creature was like two tiny blobs of jelly with six legs and big, black eyes; a kind of globular springtail.

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