wildlife notes 24 Aug 07

Some of our wildlife is taken for granted – it’s ordinary. Some signpost the seasons, others are silent and invisible. Take soil microbes, for example, sitting unnoticed beneath our feet, an ecological treasure trove whose unfathomed biochemical sorcery keeps us all alive.

Of course we all tend to pay attention to those who shout the loudest. Proving the point, this week a pair of Raven made their presence known to all, as they cawed atop larches at the conference centre near where I live. Ravens are the largest type of crow in our countryside, larger than a Buzzard, and despite their vulgar voices they seemed rather regal.

Ironically, last night I discovered some very loud, abundant creatures that I have been close to many times yet never noticed them. And despite the fact that now I know they are there – I still don’t exactly know what they are! Whilst walking around with a bat detector, listening to bat ultrasound , I could hear a repetitive rasping in the grass.

There were hundreds of hidden crickets, shouting across to each other, but all avoided being spotted in torchlight. And when I switched off the bat detector I couldn’t hear a thing! So when a neighbour passed by, I had to explain what I was doing staring into the dark grass and to prove I wasn’t nuts, demonstrated the ultrasound phenomenon. Hopefully he left convinced.

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