A number of months ago my friend Pauline spotted a wood mouse in my garden as she sat sipping a cup of tea. She excitedly told me how it emerged from behind my shed office, then scampered along the top of the green flowerbed edging, rummaging for food.
She saw it several times . . . apparently.
I never did. I was starting to wonder if she'd had too much sun and was imagining it.
Then she started to leave peanuts out each day. Thinking she'd gone potty I went to check the place where she placed them each day, quite prepared to call the men in white coats. However, to my surprise, and it varied in the time of day, but the peanuts kept disappearing. For months I tried to see the mouse, and would occasionally sit quietly in the hope my timing would be just right and he would appear. But alas, nothing.
Then last week the peanuts were no longer being taken. I was disappointed, of course, but then, it's only a mouse for goodness sake. However, I decided to set up small CCTV cameras to record the garden through the night, just to see if anything stirred.
At first light I checked the footage with a monitor in my shed office. I wasn't expecting to see anything as the peanuts were still there. Patiently I sat there, super-fast forwarding the black and white footage of 14 hours.
I was right, no creature had stirred, not even a mouse.
I switched everything off, checked my watch as I was due to meet someone at 10am, turned to leave, and there, right in front of the shed, was a small brown wood mouse with a white underbelly! Just sat on a paving slab, sniffing the air around him, ears like saucers. It seems daft to say this, but he was as I have always imagined a mouse to look. He instantly became my favourite thing in the garden.
So now the challenge was to film him in full colour HD.
The following day I set up two cameras at 7am to record for four hours. As I watched the footage back, right on cue, at roughly the same time as I had seen him the previous day, he appeared, picking up the peanuts one at a time and scurrying off. Where to I had no idea.
If you would like to see the edited 2 minute film of him click here.
This morning I repeated the process but with the cameras in slightly different positions. I discovered that he was taking the peanuts one at a time underneath the new shed I built last autumn. The gap between visits to collect the peanuts varied between two and three minutes, so I'm not sure if he's taking them to eat under there, or storing them for later. It makes sense for him to use that shed space as it must be super dry under there, and it is shielded all around by wooden edging, so very secure. If he's storing them I hate to think just how many peanuts are under there!
His foraging job done for the day, he scurried past the camera and back round to the rear of my shed office. Presumably going for a well earned rest.