On my way through The Wilderness woodland on the University of Reading campus this afternoon, I noticed a rapid rustling motion in the leaf litter. I turned and stopped, and watched the spot intently. A few seconds later the leaves rustled again and for a split-second a little black velvet head appeared: it was a mole, either clearing out or gathering bedding for its burrows. I tried to reposition myself stealthily in order to start filming, but I was obviously too clumsy and the vibrations I set off in the mole’s subterranean world put it off coming back up for more dead leaves.
This was only the third live mole I have ever seen. The first was in Pamber Forest just under two years ago, exhibiting exactly the same behaviour as today’s. On that occasion I was more fortunate, and managed to get the following footage. Blink and you may miss the mole’s brief visits to the surface! As it retreats underground you can see it draggin leaves behind it, presumably for use as bedding material in a nest-chamber.