Lately, wildlife photographer Simon Dell came across the small mouse family which playing around his yard. Instead of hitting the spikes, though, he took out his weapons. Dell designed a miniature village for the mice family and they paid him back with lovely animal photography shots.
“I was out one day just taking pictures of the birds in the yard, and having just cut the grass, I found something moving on the ground,” Simon said. “I pointed my camera to the ground and was surprised but very pleased to see a very cute little house mouse standing just like a meerkat in the fresh grass.”
“Instantly, I realized that the adorable dog was a star and ran back inside to get a couple of peanuts to put down for him. Sitting there, waiting, it was only minutes before he came back out for the treats.”
“It was the time I thought I’d give the little mouse a shelter and safe place to hide and feed.”
“I had a bit of experience taking adorable photos of wildlife and mice as I also had another mouse that used to live in my garden and only come out after dark. He was a wood mouse, and his name is Stuart.”
“He was once a lonely mouse, but he left at the start of spring 2018, maybe to find a mate. Hoping he comes back this winter and he could get to know the brand new mice in the garden.”
“We get all kinds of wildlife in the garden. Many kinds of birds, such as house sparrows, blackbirds, robins, etc. Even a grey heron who has taken most of the goldfish from my ponds.”
“We also have a fox that comes every night and a lot of hedgehogs and squirrels.”
“At the first time, there was just the one mouse. He had a cut in his ear, and we named him George. I piled some small logs around a box as a home for the mouse and covered it with moss and straw to give him a little shelter.”
“I could see the cats sitting just feet away beside a fence, so the log pile also gave him a bit more safety.”
“So I set up a wire fence along the wall, so there was no way the cats could get to the mouse. I also have a small Jack Russell Terrier puppy, so the cats know they’re not going to the yard, and the dog doesn’t pay any attention to the mice.”
“A few days later, I found out that there could be more than one mouse inside the log pile, and it was not long ’till they both came out for a bit of food.”
“I decided to build them a home because I wanted to give them a safe place in the garden, and not a threat for cats or other animals. However, as I was feeding the mice, it was the right thing to do, as I would think it was my responsibility to get them out if they became predators. Being a wildlife photographer, I wanted to create a nice looking environment for any photo I’d take.
“The first stage of the log pile was very simple and only took about an hour to make. Nevertheless, as more mice arrived in the days that followed, I made changes, adding more rooms. The inside of the box has two or three ways in and out, so they can escape if they need. Over the weeks and months, the log pile village has been slowly growing.
“I added more space and made it appropriate for a cold winter, giving the mice the best chance to survive. I have counted around 5 or more mice. Luckily, the female, Mildred, is looking pregnant so hoping we will have more baby mice around Christmas.”
“When I knew mice can have up to 14 babies, I could be building many more log pile rooms. However I have space and don’t mind living alongside such adorable and very photogenic little critters.”
“The mice seem to love the log pile homes and quickly move in. They are wild animals so they still run if I get too close or move too fast. Then I manage to sit down just a few feet away with a zoom lens and they seem free to pop in and out for nuts or seed.”
“Generally, the food I give them is all organic. I select and gather berries, nuts and fruit that grow wild just off the road in the Shire Brook Valley Local Nature Reserve. I also give them the same mix of seeds that I place on bird tables with sunflower seeds and other hazel and walnuts.
“I have always liked photography but have only owned a DSLR for around 3 years, slowly building up my kit and upgrading cameras to enhance my skills and also help get better mouse photos and images of wildlife.”
“A better kit and a good lens help but nothing beat learning how to control the camera, understand the settings, and learn to understand the wildlife which you are taking photos of, to get closer or know the time and place to find your target.”
“The mice are still here, enjoying a very wonderful life. It’s winter now, so the days are shorter and they come out less often. It’s hard to see them when it gets dark. But I see them come out for food in the day, and they’re all gone by the next morning. I also give them a handful of feathers and they take that to line their beds inside and keep them warm on the cold winter nights”.
As a idiom, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, now Photographer Simon Dell has a lively garden and adorable friends. How do you think about this story? Share with us!