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Re: Hi! (Newbie trying to solve a mystery)

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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 10:39   #1
Bluemoon1502
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Re: Hi! (Newbie trying to solve a mystery)

Hi I'm new to the forum and was wondering if this would be the right place to get some info to try and solve an on going mystery!

We have just moved into a new house and noticed some some kind of droppings on and around the bins. They looked a bit big for a mouse so I thought rats strait away!

I cleaned the droppings away and left a humane trap on the floor next to the bins, along with 3 peanuts about a foot away from the trap to see of anything had been along. I then turned my CCTV cameras to the area and went to bed.

The next day, first thing in the morning, I went to check the bins to see if there were any new droppings and there was. About 50 of them! I then checked my trap but nothing had been caught. Checked the peanuts next to the trap and they were all still there! I was puzzled as to why the animals that have done about 50 droppings, have not eaten the peanuts? Not to worry I thought. At least I've caught it on cctv so I can ID the animal. The problem was.. when I checked my cameras, the droppings just seem to appear from no where! Like literally drop out of the sky! I re-wound the cameras and I can see the dropins arrive but cannot see anything leave the droppings. I've zoomed in, but nothing.

I cleaned the droppings away once again and covered the tops of my bins with white paper so it was easier to see anything walking on them. I also angled my cameras upwards so I could see anything flying over which may drop them (thinking bats). The next night at about 7PM, I checked my camera and noticed a new dropping had arrived. I re-wound my camera footage and pressed play. Again, the dropping just arrived from no where! I've re-wound and zoomed in, looked at the area above where the droppings appear, at the time it happens, but cannot see anything.

These droppings, at least 50 of them every night, keep appearing. Every evening, between 5 and 10 of them appear from between about 6.30pm until about 9pm. Nothing happens in the day however when I wake up, there are at least 50 new droppings which have appeared over night!?

I've checked my garage (which the bins are up against) for bats but cant see any evidence of them. I've sat in my conservatory which overlooks the garage/bins at dusk, but cannot see anything happen. The garage wall is covered in ivy (I'm not sure if that is of any relevence).

I've got pictures of the droppings and was hoping someone would point me in the right direction to maybe ID which kind of animal it is? I'm hoping it is bats to be honest because we like to have a lot of BBQ's and there is nothing better for controlling the amount of insects in the air!

I've attached (I think) some images of the droppings.

Apologies is this is the wrong place to ask about this however any advice would be good!

Thanks

Bluemoon1503
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 11:00   #2
delia todd
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Hi Bluemoon and a warm welcome to you from all the Staff and Moderators.

A mystery indeed and I have no idea!!! As they look a bit 'animal-like' I've moved your post to the Mammal Forum and subscribed you to the thread so you can find it easily. I'll keep an eye, so if I've guessed wrong, I can move your thread to another section.

You'll receive an email with any replies, and can simply click on the link provided in it to take you straight to the thread.

Meantime I hope you enjoy your time here with us.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 11:10   #3
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Welcome to Birdforum! I am sure you will find lots to interest you here, and hope you enjoy your visits.

Sorry I can't help with your mystery, but I am intrigued!
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 11:20   #4
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Hi Bluemoon and welcome to BirdForum. Sounds like rats but we have some very knowledgeable members who will be able to provide you with an answer.

Rich
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 11:23   #5
Farnboro John
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I'm thinking Feral Pigeons, don't look like rodent droppings to me.

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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 12:19   #6
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Originally Posted by ClarkWGriswold View Post
Hi Bluemoon and welcome to BirdForum. Sounds like rats but we have some very knowledgeable members who will be able to provide you with an answer.

Rich

Yes that's exactly what I thought! So I put white paper down on my bin to make the culprit viable, and pointed my cctv camera at it. You can see the droppings appear, but nothing leaves them. The camera is HD and about 4 meters away from where the droppings are left. They just appears out of no where 🤔

They have to come out of the sky as I cannot think of another explanation.

I'll try and upload some footage of one being left 🤷🏼*♂️
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 12:34   #7
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Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
I'm thinking Feral Pigeons, don't look like rodent droppings to me.

John
The only place where the droppings are left, is about a meter out from the garage wall and then up to the wall? I've been in the garage and can't see/hear/smell anything. It's really got me puzzled. I sat out here until 8.30ish yesterday watching but nothing happened. I came out again at about 9.30 and there was a dropping there. When I came out at 11.30pm 'ish' There were about 4 and this morning - about 50 of them!

I'm going to stay out later tonight and keep watching👍🏼

Bluemoon ✌🏼
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 13:17   #8
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I'm thinking you have a large caterpillar or two feeding on the vegetation growing up the garage wall and overhanging the bin. As many caterpillars feed during the evening and night, this, if my hunch is right, might explain why the droppings appear overnight/during the evening and nothing is seen to walk over the bin and deposit them, and nothing is seen falling from the sky. The rectangular shape of them leads me to this conclusion.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 13:30   #9
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Oh goodness Walter... I would never even have had caterpillars cross my mind for doing this!

Amazing.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 14:41   #10
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Me neither... don't want to tangle with those caterpillars!

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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 14:53   #11
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Leave some Cherry Pie on top of your bin overnight. If there is a neat hole in it the following morning, then its definitely a caterpillar. A very hungry one.
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 15:09   #12
Bluemoon1502
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Originally Posted by WalterRayle View Post
I'm thinking you have a large caterpillar or two feeding on the vegetation growing up the garage wall and overhanging the bin. As many caterpillars feed during the evening and night, this, if my hunch is right, might explain why the droppings appear overnight/during the evening and nothing is seen to walk over the bin and deposit them, and nothing is seen falling from the sky. The rectangular shape of them leads me to this conclusion.

My wife suggested this at the beggining but I presumed they would be active during the day as that's when I've seen them. I've never thought to look for a caterpillar at night! This does make sense though as the green inside would be from the leaves theyve been eating.

With the amount of droppings, I would presume that there are enough of them for me to spot them quietest easily. I didnt know we had caterpillars that big here in uk!

I'll look into this tonight.

Thanks

Bluemoon ✌🏼
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Old Saturday 11th April 2020, 15:16   #13
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Please, please let us know what you discover. I've really learnt something today Bluemoon!
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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 09:34   #14
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when you said 50 dropping my first thought was muntjac deer, are you losing any plants from your garden ?
love a good mystery

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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 11:14   #15
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Morning update.

I was outside all day yesterday until about 9PM, and didnt see anything. No new droppings at that time either.

I checked the ivy for caterpillars after it went dark and didnt see anything in there. I didnt ruffle the ivy as I didnt want them to fall out if they were there. I presume they'd be pretty easy to spot as the droppings are between 3mm and 5mm in diameter which means the culprit has to be bigger that. Also, as the stools are well spread out, I'm guessing that there must be quiete a few of whatever it is.

This morning I've been out to check the area and again, there are 30+ new droppings on the bins (more on the floor around the bins and along the wall up to about a meter out.

The issue that I have is that I've been sat outside until it goes dark twice now and nothing has actually happened while I've been sat there. The only other steps I can think of to ID the animal are:

I wish I ruffled the ivy to see if anything fell out so I'm going to do that tonight.

I'm going to sit outside until something happens and just keep checking every hour or so, even though I probably wont see it happen due to poor light at least I'll know of it happens while on sat there.

I'm not sure if leaving my security light on over night will make any difference as the light is right above where this keeps happening, or putting my chair at the scene and sitting right where it happens? I dont want to scare whatever ot os before I can work out what it is!


Any suggestions?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Davies View Post
when you said 50 dropping my first thought was muntjac deer, are you losing any plants from your garden ?
love a good mystery

Nigel
There are no plants being eaten in the garden. I cant see any signs of anything large being in the garden. The nearest open land is about a mile away. The deer would have to cross quiet a few roads to get to our house, which has 6ft fencing all the way around. Although that would probably be cooler than having bats, I dont think it is deer! Plus, the cctv footage that I have shows nothing leaving it. Just the droppings appearing out of the sky, literally!

Does anyone know how to edit a video so it's small enough to be post on the forum so I can post the footage?


Thanks

Bluemoon ✌��

Last edited by Bluemoon1502 : Sunday 12th April 2020 at 11:19. Reason: Missing info
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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 12:25   #16
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Sorry you said dropping on the bins which rules out deer.
Have you taken a dropping apart to see what is inside ?
is there anything nesting in the ivy behind the bins ?

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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 15:05   #17
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Sorry you said dropping on the bins which rules out deer.
Have you taken a dropping apart to see what is inside ?
is there anything nesting in the ivy behind the bins ?

Nigel
The ivy on the wall is only about 5 inches thick. I've had a poke around with a stick to see if anything flies out and nothing happens 👍🏼


The droppings are really hard by the next day when I get to them. They're green inside and quiete dusty. I was thinking bats because some of them have bits in them which could be perceived as being wings which haven't been digested, but then I'm not sure if bat droppings are green on the inside?

I think the best guess so far could be caterpillars although it would have to be one hell of a catterpilar and quiete a few of them to do a dropping of this size and quantity.. Although I am no expert hence coming to the forums 😁

I'll ruffle the bushes tonight and see of anything falls out.

I'll keep the forum updated.

Bluemoon ✌🏼
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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 15:57   #18
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I'm sure I once saw a TV programme when a naturalist said that Bat droppings tend to be dry and crumble to dust when rubbed between your fingers. Not 100% certain this is true but would make some sense assuming they are made up of the indigestible remains of insects.

Might help
Martyn
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Old Sunday 12th April 2020, 18:13   #19
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I'm sure I once saw a TV programme when a naturalist said that Bat droppings tend to be dry and crumble to dust when rubbed between your fingers. Not 100% certain this is true but would make some sense assuming they are made up of the indigestible remains of insects.

Might help
Martyn
It is true: even completely fresh they are only marginally damp and after a minimal time out of the bat they are dry, being in either state crumbly. They are typically a dark brown to blackish (depending on the insects eaten!)

Rodent droppings are moist and will smear. Unpleasant if rubbed between the fingers!

John
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Old Monday 13th April 2020, 07:50   #20
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Bear in mind, if they are, as I suspect, caterpillar droppings, caterpillars do have a habit of projecting their droppings some distance away from where they're actually feeding. It's been found that those of the Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly project theirs over distances of up to 38x their body length*. So they may be feeding some distance away from where the droppings are.

*That's the equivalent of a human projecting theirs the length of a football pitch.
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Old Monday 13th April 2020, 10:11   #21
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It's been found that those of the Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly project theirs over distances of up to 38x their body length*.

*That's the equivalent of a human projecting theirs the length of a football pitch.
Wow! Tomorrow I'm gonna try....

John
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Old Monday 13th April 2020, 10:58   #22
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Wow! Tomorrow I'm gonna try....

John
I’ll get Sars to knock you up a Lemon Meringue pie John. Or is that cheating?
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Old Thursday 16th April 2020, 17:01   #23
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Mystery solved!

Thank you for your information Walter. It actually IS caterpillars!!

I was having a good 'root' through the ivy today and found what looked like an empty caccoon. So I pulled the ivy back a bit further and saw this catterpillar. I gently took the caterpillar out of the bush and put it on the table and as soon as I put it down, it did a dropping. Right there in front of me!

There is absolutely no doubt that this is what has been doing the droppings. There must be loads in there!

I'd be interested to know what kind of moth they are (presuming it is a moth?) I dont suppose anybody knows?

Pictures attached.

Thanks

Bluemoon ✌🏼
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Old Thursday 16th April 2020, 17:20   #24
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Old Thursday 16th April 2020, 17:22   #25
delia todd
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What an amazing story and discovery!!

Many thanks for taking us on this journey Bluemoon!!!
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My Lockdown List report - 2019 Down Under Trip Report

2006 63, 2007 52, 2008 46, 2009 32, 2010 31, 2011 27 Total 81 Last Patch tick: Magpie (locally scarce)

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die - Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)


The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing - Socrates
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