I first saw the pile of potting soil between 2 plastic pots over the weekend and my curiosity was piqued.

I sweep my balcony tiles fairly regularly even though I have only 4 potted plants there this Summer 2020/2021.

As you can see in the image below, the pile of dirt was quite significant on the otherwise well-swept grey tiles.

I only have a few plants on my apartment balcony at the moment as I’d re-homed most (about 20) mid-last-year in preparation for a house move and eventually……. my hip replacement surgery (which finally occurred 1st December 2020).  I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry heavy watering cans after surgery.  (note: the house move turned out to be disastrous with damp and freezing cold rattling my bones which no amount of heating and thermal underwear could dispel, so I moved back to this current apartment only 8 days later)  😀

I won’t be replanting my balcony garden until next Spring, although I might end up buying some English curly parsley and Italian flat-leaf parsley this coming weekend as I miss them so much.

To give those unfamiliar with my hot west-facing Balcony Garden experiments on my old Nature blog an idea of what I grow each year, here’s a small selection from Spring 2019.

The birds are welcome guests and I really don’t mind how much mint and parsley they eat.

…..back to the story.

I left the pile of soil for a couple of days while I tried to work out how it got there, then went outdoors and swept it up and threw it in a spare plastic pot.

On Monday morning after I got out of bed and pulled up the block-out blinds in the lounge, I thought I saw some movement in one of the drainage holes of the Rosemary’s green plastic pot.   There was a new pile of potting soil.

Could it be some sort of beetle?   I only have long-distance glasses and sometimes can’t see what’s in front of my nose (so to speak).   Surprisingly, I can spot a faint movement among the leaves of the Japanese Maple and Eucalyptus trees in front of my balcony though.

My lightweight camera was laying on my desk so I quickly took the lens cap off and I brought it up to my eye.   I focused as best I could in my fuzzy early morning mind and waited.

Next minute a tiny face and eye appeared in the hole entrance and I managed to fire off a shot before the nose/eye quickly disappeared again.

I turned my 27″ iMac on and downloaded the shot eager to see what I might have captured on the large screen.

It was a tiny field-mouse and I was thrilled to think I had a new resident on my apartment balcony.

Here’s a closely cropped version, albeit a bit soft in focus.  It is clearly a field mouse.   A rat would have been far too big to squeeze in that hole and dig out a little nest.

I’ll keep you posted if I see any more signs of life or tiny feet to indicate some offspring.

You need to be silent and develop observation powers to capture the smallest life as it goes about its daily routine.   Never underestimate the joy that can be found in the small things in nature and the thrill of seeing unusual sightings where you once thought were empty spaces.

Lockdowns around the world don’t stop you being in Nature and observing Mother Nature at work.   I’ve photographed birds in tall office and apartment towers in the city centre where one assumes there is nothing but glass and steel.   I’ve seen tiny field mice scurry over asphalt paths in suburbia and spotted a large White-faced Heron standing on the wooden fence on the cliff face opposite my apartment building right next to the suburban pavements that are frequented by walkers, school children and others.

I saw this amusing quote on a web page the other week and I just thought of it as I finish this post.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. 
 Willie Nelson