Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Worried Beetle

One of the pleasures of yesterday's walk, along with the bright sunshine, was a brief encounter with....

....the first beetle of the year.  I think it may be a dor beetle but, whatever his name, he was in a considerable hurry to get off the narrow sheep track we were following and in to some cover.

We began to understand his anxiety when, a short distance on, we were stopped by this mound of droppings, arranged very neatly in a pile about a foot across, with another pile, as big, a few feet further along the path.  Despite looking around, we could find no other droppings, and nothing else remarkable except for the imprint of a deer's hoof.

A close look at the pile revealed that it contained a remarkable number of bits of beetle.  Had I been the dor beetle, faced with this predator I'd have been worried.

This is the first time we've seen anything like this on West Ardnamurchan.  An enquiry to the Ardnamurchan Estate's Conservation Officer, Ben McKeown, quickly revealed that this is the characteristic latrine of our local badgers.

Such well-organised latrines are open found near setts, and are also used as boundary markers for the badger clan.  We did look around, and found no nearby sett.  This, and the fact that it was right in the middle of the path, suggests it was arranged as a "Keep Out!" notice to other badgers - and, possibly, a warning to beetles.

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