Before leaving for Cropthorne this afternoon, I decided to water the veg patch. Look who turned up, sniffing his way through the soil, undergrowth, and even the sole of my shoe…
I was not sure whether it was a common shrew or pygmy shrew – so I posted the top two pictures onto the Mammal Society’s Facebook page, to ask for expert opinion on it. This drew a unanimous response… one person wrote, “the lighter strip of fur on the sides is typical of commons, rather than pygmies; commons are known as tri-coloured in this way”, while another said “It’s very young but I’d say three shades of colour = common”.
Watching it constantly on the move, sniffing and probing everywhere it went, investigating every crevice in the soil, made me realise that the life of a shrew must be quite hard: it needs to eat its own body-weight in insects every day, just in order to survive. I suspect what it drew it out from the safety of the hawthorn hedge was my watering the garden with a hose, providing softer soil to probe for food.
I was already in last-minute mode for preparing to go on the retreat, so the shrew delayed things further. As it happened, the rehearsal for the deacons’ ordination took longer than expected, so I arrived there at the same time that almost everyone else did!