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brown-lipped snail

A Magnificent Pile

Saturday 29th September 2001, West Yorkshire

frog and snailgarden rubbish heapTHE HEAP of twiggy debris and branches in the corner of the garden has become a habitat pile - a refuge for two or three Toads and four or five Frogs. Several humbug-striped Brown-lipped Snails are sheltering amongst the branches.

It's not until I dismantle the heap and shred the twigs that I realise that it has become an apartment block for wildlife.

old blackbird's nestA Blackbird must have nested there this year. A nest of fine twigs and moss, the size of a soup bowl, is lined with mud and finer grassy material. It is no more than 18 inches above the ground but the surrounding vegetation and the heap itself must have helped keep it out of the sight of cats and other predators.

This summer a Dunnock nested in the hedge a few yards away from the heap.

toadSadly, as I mow close to the heap, I catch a toad in the mower and it is instantly killed. I take even greater care as I dismantle the remainder of the heap.

William Blake insisted;
The cut worm forgives the plough

But it isn't clear how many earthworms he interviewed to arrive at this poetic insight.

As I make myself some toast a small beetle has a narrow escape as it climbs out of the toaster, unfolds its wings and flies off straight to the window. It had evidently found refuge in the toaster, which we don't use much and which sits in a corner of the kitchen under its fabric cover. I imagine that it thought it had found suitable place to spend the winter. It must have been surprised that summer had come around again so quickly and fiercely. next page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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