Category Archives: In the Garden

Hedgehog Diner

The blog may have been quiet but it has been quite busy here behind the scenes!

As the cold weather began to make an appearance numerous hedgehogs were spotted rooting around the garden trying to fatten up before hibernation. So we decided to build a little feeding station to help them along.

Stocked with fresh water and a hearty helping of ‘Super Meaty’ catfood – the station is wiped clean on a nightly basis as hedgies big and small help make it a neighbourhood hot spot. We’re delighted by how popular it has become!

If you click through you’ll find more details on the station and how to make your own if you have any night time visitors! 

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In Memory

Sometimes the man of the house can be really thoughtful. He suggested that we plant a tree over our little friend’s grave to commemorate his short life. And so it was done. We decided to go for an apple tree, which will doubtless feed the birds as well as other tiny creatures, and we also got some lovely bulbs that will come out staggered over the spring months, helping the bees at their business – a little salute to British wildlife. And it is here that we lay down our little friend, and hope that we are fortunate enough to meet many more as life goes on.


Sad News

Wildlife folks contacted us and said it was unlikely that at 4oz and in his current condition, the little hoglet would make it. And indeed, in the early hours of this morning, the little guy breathed his last. I really hoped he would make it and am heartbroken at the loss of this tiny life that has left a huge vacancy in the house and in our hearts. Rest in peace little dude, I hope that the last couple of days of your too short life were comfortable ones.

Care centres and rescues around the country are dealing with hundreds of these little Autumn orphans. Many are underfunded and understaffed, some operate out of tiny rooms and little sheds, and many carers pay for their treatment and care out of their own pockets. I have been overwhelmed by the time and effort people around the UK put in to help these little creatures and other native wildlife and I am humbled by the way they reached out to this tiny creature in my care, calling and messaging and making themselves available at all hours. In particular, I’d like to thank Bob Fleming from the Cardiff Hedgehog Rescue for his non-stop assistance and Jackie Burke at Leighton Buzzard Hedgehog Rehabilitation for her advice and encouragement.

If you are able, I would ask that you donate what you can manage to the BHPS, one of the individuals mentioned above or contact one of your local carers to find out how you can help or donate towards their costs. It doesn’t take much – just £5 can feed 20 hedgehogs a day.

 

Please consider a donation to these causes. They make a big difference to these delightful little endangered creatures.


Hoglet Photo Update!

Just a quick photo update since little dude was up and about having a smackerel. He was also weighed on my kitchen scales so I could send his stats across to folks who can tell me how to care from him for the time being. If you click through, you can see the BHPS page that indicates his possible age.


Hoglet in the House!

Britain’s hedgehog population has been in a state of steady decline – down by a quarter over just the last ten years! For a creature than is beneficial to our gardens and a delight to watch and be around, this is well and truly a shame. Intensive agriculture, encroaching development and being too slow while crossing roads (!) have all led to a sorry situation all around. But there are people willing to help. There is the British Hedgehog Society as well as smaller recue and care centres, like Willows Hedgehog Rescue, dotted around the country.

Some of you may know just how mad I am about hedgehogs. I’ve signed up at Hedgehog Street and recently joined Wild About Britain to learn more about how to get involved in their care, rehabilitation and conservation (both incredibly informative and highly recommended).

And yesterday, a little hoglet decided to take me up on that!

Lily and I were out for a quick run around the dog field in the middle of the afternoon (on our previous visit we’d been roughed up a bit by two massive boxers the owner couldn’t quite control, and since this is often the case we had been avoiding the field in peak times). As we entered we noticed a gentleman walking his pitbull around the field on a leash. Since it’s unusual to see leashed dogs within the field, I thought that he might be a bit hard to handle and for safety’s sake kept Lily on a leash as well. Turned out that there was a wee hoglet in the dog field and the bigger dog had tried to get at it, hence the owner had slipped the lead on him – I came upon the little bundle of prickles and touched him lightly to see if he was alive and he was! The other dog walker came up to me and explained about his dog and what had happened earlier. We couldn’t see how he’d got into the field, and clearly it wasn’t the place for a wee hedgehoggy to be, seeing the dog traffic, so I decided to take him home and call the wildlife folks and see what was to be done. Lily was very well behaved and after the other two left I let her off leash and she ran about while I collected the little dude in my fleece.

As we were walking home I started wondering whether I’d done the right thing – but all the reading I’d done suggested a) dogs would maul hedgehogs and often did – and b) a hedgehog would not be out during the day unless something was wrong. I got on the Wild About Britain forum where I got immediate responses providing advice, contact numbers, encouragement and agreement that it was in the little guy’s best interests for me to have brought him home.

I called the county rescue but just got a message saying they weren’t taking in any more casualties (its the time of year when they are quite overwhelmed and, very likely, under-funded) – so will try again today, just to get him checked over and make sure he’s fit and fine.

He didn’t look too tiny (I’ll weigh him later today) so I imagined he’s about a month old and weaned. I mashed up some of Lily’s food and put it in the cover of a jam jar, same for water and put them in a box set up with newspaper, a hot water bottle and a towel. And sure enough, the second he smelt the food, his nose began to twitch and he scuttled right to it and pigged out noisily! Since then, he’s eaten a few times, drank some water, taken many naps, spent the night pinging around all over the little run I put together for his nocturnal meanderings and been a regular marauder! His poo has become firm and he generally looks like he’s in good health.

I’m hoping that he can be checked over by the rescue people or otherwise the vet, and that he’s in the pink. Perhaps they’ll let me keep him around, our garden’s been overrun by slugs and could do with a resident Hedgehog-in-Chief when he’s older. We’ll have to sort him out with regards to having an outside run and a place to hibernate (if he’s old enough to survive it) or learn how to over-winter him inside if he’s not – but the man of the house says that’s all doable and if we can convince him to adopt our garden it’ll be a win all around.

Do click through the picture to read a great article in the Guardian about how beneficial they are and how to lend a helping hand by making your garden hedgehog-friendly. I’ll keep you updated on what happens to our little friend. I haven’t named him as yet – thought we’d wait till be got an okay from wildlife folks, but the shortlist so far is:

Rashers

Truffles

Hogden Dash

Do let me know if you have some suggestions, we’ll add them to the pile and take a family vote if he becomes a permanent resident.


A Spot in the Sun

A few days back we had a sunny spell, so I thought I’d quickly grab some sunshine time in the garden. I put out the blanket and went in to make some ice-tea (sunshine doesn’t work properly without ice-tea), and when I returned, her royal doggieness had taken over my spot! Please note the very firm ‘I belong here, don’t try and mess with me – now go fetch me a snack’ look I got from her. She rules with an iron paw she does.


No Time for Sorrow

Einstein said that “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” Learn more about these amazing creatures and help ensure that we are never short of flowers in this world of ours.


Hoopoes!

These guys are just lovely in life – their wings in flight, flashing their distinctive bold black and white colouring, are just gorgeous to see. I remember them pecking around our back garden in Lahore many years ago.

I do miss them – and that garden.


Hedgehog in the Fog

I have discovered something wonderful today! An animated Russian classic from 1975. What a marvellous, poetic little story. And one featuring my dear little friend, the hedgehog!

As Michelle Aldredge, a writer and photographer, says on her blog Gwarlingo.: “If you’ve never seen Yuriy Norshteyn’s Hedgehog in the Fog, then you are in for a special treat. And if you have seen it, you owe it to yourself to revisit this classic, animated film”. Go on, you can spare 10 minutes! To learn more, take a look at Michelle’s blog where she expands on the background and the creator of this little gem.


Death in the Afternoon

This is a rather sad and somewhat graphic story, so be warned.

I was standing at the large window that overlooks our garden a couple of weeks ago, watching a little robin bathing in the bird bath. The evening breeze was ruffling the trees and birdsong was in the air. Suddenly the robin darted into the hedge and as I was wondering what had startled it, one of the collared doves that live in the garden delicately flew down towards the overhanging tree right by the window. As I watched her, mid-glide, just four or five feet from me, something fast and ruthless swept past right by me and the dove seemed to explode into a puff of feathers. A young sparrowhawk had grabbed her and, within an instant, was on the ground in front of me, ripping the struggling dove to pieces as she struggled, pale grey feathers flying everywhere.

I was undone.

The man said to let it be, with a bird of prey the damage is major and immediate and there would be no saving our gentle feathered friend. I couldn’t tear my eyes away and watched the sparrowhawk take his time and eat his fill. It’s difficult to play the role of observer when nature seems so cruel, but the ‘hawk needs to fill his belly the same as any other bird I suppose. I have had a close encounter with a sparrowhawk before, an older female possibly looking to feed her young; it’s likely this young male was her offspring. It’s just that that very afternoon, the man and I had been sitting on the couch watching the dove and her mate canoodling on the fence in front of us. The gentle creatures seemed to be kissing and cuddling and then kissing again as part of their mating play, and it had made us smile and want to hold hands.

Sadness.