QUOTE – (fill in whatever title you like)

When the mouse laughs at the cat, there’s a hole nearby.
Nigerian Proverb

Despite being told there was a mouse plague in Melbourne, I liked the whole idea of field mice living under my Rosemary potted plant, but after disposing of the 3rd dead mouse from my apartment balcony tiled floor in as many weeks, I had to take action.

I let the potted herb dry out to make it lighter in weight and then wheeled it down in the lift in my shopping trolley, though the ground floor car park and out the back ‘gate’.

THE CAR PARK ENTRANCE IN MY BUILDING IS JUST BEHIND THE MAGNOLIA BUSH ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THIS PHOTO. THERE IS A LARGE FIELD BETWEEN THE BUILDING AND FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE IN THE CENTRE OF THE IMAGE.

The field behind the building seemed to be the ideal place to empty the Rosemary pot.

I’d pulled the plant out the previous week so knew there was a ‘spiral staircase’ from the bottom of the plastic pot’s largest drainage hole right up to under the soil level where the Rosemary’s roots splay out to catch any moisture or nutrition.

The ‘spiral staircase’ starts in the lower left of the image above and rises (unseen) around the back of the soil and ending up near the base of the plant.

I gave the plant a good shake to dispose of any loose soil clinging to the root system and out popped another dead mouse.

I felt more than a little sad at destroying the tiny critter’s home.  But decided the mice just had to be removed from my 1st floor apartment balcony before any more residents on the ground and (my) first floor apartments, which are built into the steep hillside, are baited by the maintenance team who look after the housing estate’s 5-6 buildings.

Sigh!

After I removed the pot, I caught a glimpse of a Spotted Turtle-dove on the balcony fence rail and wondered if it approved.

I haven’t got any fresh bags of potting soil at the moment, so some old dried up soil remaining in another pot will have to do for re-potting.

Hopefully, I can find that old tiny bit of netting to line the Rosemary pot’s base before refilling it with soil and the Rosemary bush (to ensure no more mice make homes there).

I’ve disposed of dead birds who’ve crashed into my floor-to-ceiling lounge windows 3-4 times but this is the first time (I remember) disposing of little critters.

BIRTH.  DEATH.   IT’S THE LITTLE EVENTS THAT COME IN BETWEEN THAT OCCUPY MY DAYS.

Melbourne, we have a problem.

The city is currently in the grip of a mouse plague.

This issue has left Melbourne residents and businesses struggling to cope with this widespread rodent infestation, the likes of which have not been seen since Western Australia’s similar mouse scare in 2010. Recent reports regarding Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), an extremely dangerous disease commonly carried by rodents, has led to escalated health & safety concerns statewide.

A perfect storm involving weather, food and timing has provided the ideal conditions for a mouse population explosion.

Earlier in the year, the CSIRO issued an advanced warning to farmers, since the mice could potentially have calamitous effects on their newly sown seed. This pre-emptive action allowed farmers to take preventative measures and avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by a similar plague in 1993.

Let’s have a look at the reasons behind the current plague and discuss ways to prevent or minimise its impact on homes and businesses.

Ideal Conditions

The opening rains of the season saw the mouse population burst into action. A bumper harvest this spring exacerbated the issue, escalating the problem to another level, for obvious reasons.

Initially reaching plague numbers in country Victoria, they have since fast tracked their way down south to Melbourne. These mice can now be found in booming numbers throughout the CBD. Worse still, unusually low temperatures across the state have resulted in mice seeking shelter indoors, with inner-suburban householders and businesses regularly being overrun with these pesky pests.

 

QUOTE – TREES

Every time you read a book, a tree smiles knowing that there is life after death.

Unknown author

NOTE: I’ve been dealing with some more serious health issues lately – hence the slowing down of posts.   I’ll be back online more regularly……..eventually.

QUOTE – Nature

When you have all the time in the world you can spend it, not on going somewhere, but on being where you are. 

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus – female juvenile)

It seems like months since I’ve gone outdoors for a nature photography walk, but have been very busy (for a change) and only made images of the birds I can see from my desk chair.

I’ve found another ‘mouse’ hole in a spare plant pot that has the old soil still in it, but after my SIL telling me there’s a mouse plague in the country, it seems I should take the two ‘mouse’ homes out the back gate and re-settle the contents in the back paddock, not leave them on my balcony.

A MOUSE TALE

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