(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2017 Angharad
This is a work of fiction any mention of real people, places or institutions is purely coincidental and does not imply that they are as suggested in the story.
“Does that mean I’m more famous than you, Mummy?” asked a smirking Danielle as the police drove off.
“Probably, I’ve never managed to get locked into someone’s office and lose my phone at the same time.”
“Is that what they call multitasking?” asked Simon pinching a lump of cheese from the piece on the table. I smacked his hand and he grinned but ate his stolen bounty. “Nice bit of Cheddar, that.”
I wrapped it up and placed it in the fridge and collected up the other makings for the sandwiches they’d all eaten.
“Aren’t you hungry?” he addressed to me, “You hardly touched your tea?”
“I wasn’t hungry then and I’m not now,” I lied. I wasn’t then because I was anxious for Danielle and now, it’ll do me good to fast a little before bed and I could do with losing a pound or two.
“I’m astonished the glass in your phone didn’t break, seeing as they seem to do it for a pastime.” Simon picked up his daughter’s iPhone in its bright pink case. “Case must be better than I thought.”
I couldn’t remember how much it cost but it was outrageous, Trsh had one as well but the rest had Samsung and I was sticking with my BlackBerry as was Simon. It did all I needed and probably more, though GPS might be useful as we’re looking to use it to map the nest boxes we have for the dormice. Goodness, I mentioned dormice and haven’t gone into withdrawal symptoms. I just hope we don’t have any bones of them in the owl pellets for next week.
There are a few films about them on youtube, showing how different people dissect them. The two main ways are wet and dry. Either you soak them and hope you don’t throw away insect remains or even bits of bird. Mind you doing them dry can do the same thing. They’ll each have a cardboard tray and a pair of nitrile gloves. After that we switch to using the microscopes—what they call stereoscopic microscopes nowadays. They used to be called dissecting microscopes originally because that was what people used them for. They have two eyepieces and view things at relatively low magnification but in three dimensions, so they have a good depth of field compared to most magnifiers and the higher you go in magnification the less the depth of field. Mind you, you won’t see an amoeba with a stereo microscope except as a tiny white speck because they usually only magnify up to about thirty or forty times, compared to hundreds with a compound microscope. But then we’ll be hoping to examine mandibles or jaws to you. They mostly break in the owls’ gut but occasionally you get a complete upper or lower one. Then it’s a case of using dental formulae to identify the species and the length of the jaw helps with estimating size too.
We’ll do it the Mammal Society way, or at least the way that the late, great Derek Yalden, suggested in his book on the subject. Sadly he died in 2013 but was one of the best loved and admired zoologists in this country and president of the Mammal Society from 1997 until his death. He had a huge influence on the way mammals are studied and recorded setting up one of the first surveys of mammals in Britain and Ireland. So what I’ve done really follows on from his work.
I went to check if I still had my chart from the diagrams in his book—I managed to copy and laminate so that I could easily access them with dirty fingers instead of damaging the book, which I must admit in the beginning did get a bit of a used look about it.
Back to my owl pellets. Barn owls feed mostly on small mammals and birds but also eat insects and earthworms. I suppose if you’re hungry enough, you know when they’ve been on the annelids, the pellets have a sort of sandy or earthy feel to them. Seeing as earthworms are usually full of soil, or their guts are, this unsurprising and it’s not only owls which eat them, I frequently see buzzards wandering up and down ploughed fields hunting worms as well.
Good old Lumbricus terrestris is one of the main components of badger diets and also feature in the diets of hedgehogs as well as one or two lizards. Just think what would happen without earthworms aerating the soil for us, apart from the fact moles would go hungry, archaeologists wouldn’t have anything to dig up and Darwin may not have become the scientist he was. The fact that ancient remains become sunken into the ground is partly due to the action of earthworms causing the soil to rise very slightly—it takes a long time.
I yawned. It had been a long day made longer by Danielle’s disappearance. I’d have one last cuppa and then go to bed—we still had to deal with that slime fungus, Jackson, tomorrow. I hope Simon isn’t feeling amorous because he’s going to be disappointed.
The tea hit the spot and Simon had a cuppa as well. “What d’you think really happened with Danni?”
“What d’you mean?”
“Well that cock and bull story she spun, total nonsense. I mean why would she run away from a reporter? He can’t chase her he’d get arrested for harassing a minor if not for stalking.”
“I thought it sounded quite plausible though I did wonder about her phone getting detached from her—I thought that would almost need a surgeon.”
He chuckled and it was good to see him in a good mood. He wasn’t a bad looking man and it reminded me that I didn’t fall just in love with him but also to some extent, in lust as well. I went and sat on his lap.
“What are you after?” he said quietly before kissing me, his hand slipping up under my bra where his fingers found my nipple—oh that was soooo nice.
“Get a room you two,” said Julie rather too loudly and the spell was broken. I stood up and readjusted my dishevelled clothing. Why I was blushing I had no idea, we’re married and entitled to show some affection in our own home. I decided she was just jealous, so perhaps it was just as well she was looking to get her own place.
I rinsed the cups and went up to bed, Simon was still downstairs as I cleaned my teeth and had a wee. It was quite possible that I’d have to get up for another in the night but since being modified I don’t seem to be able to go all night if I drink before going to bed and tea being a diuretic by virtue of caffeine acting as a bladder irritant, it probably isn’t the best nightcap.
I snuggled into bed and was asleep before Simon came up.
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