Baby Wood Mouse eating grass stem
pic Photographed using a Nikon FE2 camera with Nikkor 55mm macro lens hand-held; taken with on-camera TTL flash at f16 on Kodachrome 64 film rated at ISO 64 and processed normally; no filters used.

Perthshire, Scotland.

The story behind the picture....
"I was photographing around the wooded rocky moors of Perthshire one summer's day, when I spotted a large caterpillar of the Northern Eggar Moth, a characteristic species of the moors. After taking a few photographs of it with macro lens and flash, I retired to a small rocky outcrop nearby for a snack and a drink.

"Halfway through a snack-bar, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and, as I turned my head to look, saw this tiny mouse disappear back into a crevice in the bedrock.

"Thinking that would be my one and only view of the little creature, I returned to my snack bar, only to catch sight of it emerge from the crevice once again. This time, turning more slowly, I was able to watch as it foraged around what I presumed was the entrance to its nest-site. As I moved slowly closer, the mouse noticed me and shuffled unhurriedly back into the hole. I identified it as a Wood Mouse and, from its very small size (smaller than a man's thumb!), as a very young one.

"Sensing the possibility of a picture should it come out again, I dropped my snack bar and grabbed the camera with macro lens and flash still attached, and quickly laid down with camera focused on the hole.

"After a minute or so, the little mouse reappeared at the hole and shuffled out, just a few inches away from the front of my lens! Expecting to get perhaps one picture if I was lucky, I was surprised when the diminutive creature reacted only mildly to the flash and noise of the shutter, and didn't bolt into its hole. Slowly winding on the film I prepared for another shot only for the mouse to turn its back on me!

"After a minute or two of staring at the mouse's back as it nibbled at something, I cautiously plucked a small fresh shoot of bog grass and gingerly poked it under the mouse's nose. Sniffing the fresh grass, it took hold of it in teeth and paws and, with it gamely hanging onto the end of the grass, I managed to 'drag' it around to face the camera!

"I was then able to get a few more shots as the short grass stem was consumed - apparently with gusto - by the tiny rodent, who appeared completely unperturbed by the noise of the shutter, the blinding flash and the proximity of lens/camera/human! However, after each shot I had to manually wind-on the film very slowly in case this frightened it back into its hole.

"As the last of the grass stem disappeared, the little mouse gave itself a quick face-wash, turned and casually shuffled back into its nest-hole. I waited in position for a half an hour before cramp forced me to rise. After a further half-hour, I decided to give up and leave.

"I still can't decide whether this young mouse was deaf and blind, lacked instinct for potential danger or was just plain stupid! Whichever, it was an amusing and enjoyable close encounter."

Geoff Doré

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