It's no secret that I pick up trail trash, and beer and power drink cans are the items most commonly discarded on my regular beat -- the flume trail.
It seems an increasing number of flume walkers quench their thirst with pricey beverages instead of water.
Yesterday I found a 16-ounce can of MGD tucked into the duff next to the trail.
It was half full and as I drained the foul-smelling liquor -- no, not into my mouth -- something soggy blocked the opening.
A mass of black fur, a tiny foot and a shrew-like tail.
I carefully stuffed my stinky can with its treasure into the outside pocket of my rucksack and continued my late afternoon hike.
Back at my workbench I opened the can and found the marinating contents to be three shrews, a carabid beetle, and a millipede.
The strolling beer-drinker had set the perfect shrew trap, a smooth-sided pitfall that attracts arthropods.
The shrews stunk, but they were still intact.
So I doused them with alcohol, inspected their teeth with my dissecting scope, and keyed them out as Trowbridge shrews (Sorex trowbridgii).
This western species eats Douglas fir seeds, in addition to usual earthworms and insects, and few live long enough to grow the brown summer coat of their second year.
Pleased with my finding, I retired to the house.
As I passed through the kitchen I smelled the rotten shrews.
"I'll wash up in a minute . . . those shrews had a powerful stench."
"That's not what you're smelling", said the redhead -- "We're having sauerkraut with pork chops tonight".