Thursday, 20 August 2009

Well,I've finally started my blog about the visitors to our small garden in Buckinghamshire, UK. During the day we have birds, and during the night, our favourite small creatures - hedgehogs. We first discovered a hedgehog on the patio in August 2008, eating some of the spilt bird food. We started finding out what we could do to help and encourage these endearing, and sadly, endangered little creatures, and started putting out food and water for them on a regular basis.

Soon after that we bought a couple of infra-red CCTV cameras and a multichannel recorder, so we could see what they were doing without staying up all night (yes, it did happen!) Then we built a nest box - now we have four nestboxes. We had one hedgehog, who we called Nightshift, living in one of the nestboxes for a month last year, and she even hibernated there. Then, about a month after she went to sleep we had a very cold spell and she woke up and moved out - obviously not quite warm enough.

Nightshift survived hibernation, reappearing on the first of April this year, and within a couple of days she'd taken up full-time residence in her old nest box. Unfortunately, another hedgie took a liking to it as well, and Nightshift came home from a night's snuffling to find her bed taken, and she had to resort to the first nestbox, which she really didn't like. So, we built nestbox number 3, and Nightshift moved in within an hour of it being put in place. We were regularly getting hedgehogs overnighting in the first two nestboxes, so we decided to build number 4. Nightshift took a liking to number 4 as well, snoozing in number 4 during the night, in between her forays out of the garden, and then going back into number 3 to spend the day.

In the middle of July 2009 she started major renovation work in number 4, and we got the distinct feeling she was preparing it as a nursery, since she seemed to be getting very large, and we were hoping to hear the patter of tiny feet, and the squeak of tiny hoglets. Unfortunately, this was not to be. For two nights, she never left the garden, and we thought the happy moment was imminent, when at 5 in the morning, when she would normally be heading back to number 3 to spend the day, she upped and left the garden.

We didn't see her for a couple of days, then she made a brief appearance in the garden. She's coming back regularly now, two or three times a night, and spending an hour or more in the garden. We hope it's a sign that she has youngsters, who should soon be ready to leave the nest. We're hoping...

In the meantime, the other hedgehogs who were visiting seem to have stopped coming, but we have been getting a few smaller hedgies. The first one we christened Edgar, but we haven't named the more recent ones, as we're having difficulty telling them apart. We know there are at least three, since we have seen three at once, but we don't know how many more.

So that's brought you up-to-date. We'll see what happens next...

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