Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 21 March 2012 21:23
This little fella's time was up but I never let a rotting corpse get in the way of some entomology. I was walking around Southerham today when I spotted the remains of this rabbit in Bible Bottom. I flipped it over to see twenty or so silphids scramble out of the way. They were incredibly camera shy and I was quite disgusted how quickly they buried into the fur and flesh. One dropped to the ground where it immediately started to bury itself in the soil. I found them equally disgusting and fascinating. The beetle is Thanatophilus rugosus and I have seen this once before a couple of years ago in the same valley. I love the texture of the elytra. Actually, scratch that, it's a tick! I just went through my records and in fact I recorded Thanatophilus sinuatus up there. Peter Hodge tells me that rugosus is the scarcer in Sussex so this is quite a good record.
I did get another tick today under an old fence post in the same valley. A shield bug called Podops inuncta. It has a massive scutellum, so big that it pretty much takes up its whole body. I also saw my first Wheatear and Blackcaps of the year and I am now covered in freckles. My list stands at 3811 (and that's not freckles).
As a child I was haunted by this song in Watership Down. I just listened to it for the first time in years and now realise why. It was my first real encounter with death. I remember fondly how my whole family laughed at me being so upset about Hazel. As an adult, I am considerably less bothered by such things but I do gain comfort from knowing all that energy and carbon is being assimilated by a multitude of other organisms in a never ending cycle of replication.