If you read this blog regularly you may remember a couple of weeks ago I was talking about oil beetles. Will today, we discovered some carrion or sexton beetles. Now if you are in any way squeamish you may not want to read the rest of this post. The name sexton beetle comes from the British words sexton of a church – some one who would look after a graveyard. It turns out that sexton beetles are natures undertakers.
Sexton beetles will use dead mice, shrews or birds to lay their eggs in. If you look in the photo above you can see two or three beetles under the shrew.
Here the shrew had the misfortune to meet it’s death on a gravel track (probably by a feral cat that we saw hanging about today). If the body was on soil the beetles would bury their find after laying their eggs in it. Also usual among beetles is that both parents will mind the young. We are pretty sure that this one is the Nicrophorus vespilloides. I have read that the clubs on the bottom of their antennae are black while other similar species are orange.
Today is earth day – a day for celebrating our wonderful planet.
There are many digital events happening world wide – https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/
But perhaps it is just a day to go for a walk in your own area.
And enjoy all the wonders mother earth shows us.
The children and our visiting cousin from American found this little fellow by the compost heap yesterday.
Excitement turned to sadness as we discovered he was injured. He was dragging one foot behind him and the other looked hurt too. He did eat some food we offered and we put him in a safe place overnight, with food and water.
This morning we brought him to our local vet. She told us his leg is broken and he also appears to have further internal injuries around the broken leg. She is not sure he will make it, but is keeping him till tomorrow to see if there is any hope for the poor thing. It was amazing seeing a hedgehog so close, just sad that it was not a happy, healthy one. We don’t know how it got injured. It may have got hit by a car and managed to get itself to the compost heap as it is only a few metres away from our small road.
Hedgehogs will use compost heaps to find food and also for hibernating in. They mainly eat insects including earwigs, beetles, spiders, caterpillars, slugs and earthworms. They hibernate in the winter when these animals are scarce and hard to find. As our winters are relatively mild in Ireland hedgehogs generally hibernate between October and March.
In Ireland, hedgehogs are protected under Appendix III of The Berne Convention and under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000. Hedgehog populations have declined dramatically in Europe, but no research has been carried out on hedgehog populations in Ireland. Use of slug pellets, increased use of chemicals, agricultural intensification and road kills are all thought to contribute to declining numbers. For more information click here.
An empty blackbird nest in the beech hedge in the garden, exposed now because winds have blown the brown leaves off before the new ones are ready to open. We suspect either eggs or chicks were predated.