We moved the electric fence on the moor last week, letting the cows into a new area. In 6 days they did their work, chomping off the tops of purple moorgrass tussocks like a gaggle of matronly but horribly inept hairdressers. They've snacked on most of the remaining flowers too, but in return will have kicked up the 'thatch' of dead grass, letting more light in, while treading seeds well into the ground, and hopefully setting us up for even more colour next summer.
In the process, they've also revealed some of the other wildlife. This slightly untidy looking cricket-ball sized bundle of grass is actually a mouse nest - probably a harvest mouse as it's high up in the 'stalk zone' of the grass. They're usually hard to spot, but the grazing has exposed them. The nests normally have green leaves, so this brown one has presumably been abandoned, perhaps because of the rowdy laddettes who moved in last week. Hopefully the mice will have retreated into the far end of the
moor, where the cows aren't going this year, and the grass is still waist high.
In a mild autumn, harvest mice carry on making nests right into October, even November. These tiny creatures, with their wonderful prehensile tail, weigh only about as much as a 2p peice, and are amongst our smallest and most lovely mammals.