Tuesday, 29 September 2009

... and so does the late one

Having commented in the last post how early 9d and Alfie were getting up, we were caught out by them both having a lie in last night. They were nearly half an hour later getting up than the night before, as were all the other hedgehogs. It was a very quiet night to start with.

It was quite bright again, so it would have been dark around the same time as the night before, but it was possibly a little warmer, so maybe that also tells them when they should get up.

We did have a few interesting events. first of all, when 9d did finally get up, he went straight into 9c for a few minutes. Nightshift didn't react too much and throw him out, but he does seem to like trying alternative nests. He was very late in this morning - around 7 am, when it was fully light. Amazingly, he popped into 9b for a few minutes, then into 9c for a few minutes and finally into 9d. The only thing is - we aren't sure if he is the "real" 9d!

Nightshift didn't go round the front at all, and spent most of the time in the garden. She joined a couple of the youngsters on the feeders around 9a, and was happily sharing the food with them, then she got rather grumpy and started pushing.

We have really fallen for little Alfie. Yet again, he spent a few hours in and around 9b, just after he got up from 9a. He goes for a snooze in 9b, then gets up and has a feed from the mealie bowl just outside 9b, always with his back legs on the step in 9b. Then he goes for a long drink. Then he disappears for about a minute, and then back into 9b for a snooze. He repeats the whole process five of six times a night. We'll have to watch where he goes, but we suspect he just goes to spend a penny before bed.

Later on, Alfie brought another batch of leaves into 9a from under the decking.We managed to catch him from three angles:

What amazed us was that a little later, Flatmate also brought some leaves into 9a, so it would seem that the two of them are co-operating in the nest building.

What was really nice, was they then came of of the nest to share breakfast - but then Flatmate went way for the day.

There is a lot of straw outside 9a at the moment - it came out of the tunnel a few days ago when Flatmate came out when Alfie was asleep in the tunnel. They haven't bothered taking any of the straw back in, but they are bringing the leaves from about three gardens along.

Finally, on the food front, Alfie tried a few of the new hedgehog food snacks, so we've put a few more out, along with some of the other hedgehog food, in a separate bowl in front of 9c/9d again. We'll persevere!

Monday, 28 September 2009

The early hedgehog catches the mealworm

The hedgehogs seem to be getting up earlier and earlier these days, and not just because the nights are drawing in. Last night, 9d was out at 18:57, well before dark. Alfie was up and out of 9a not much later. It could be a change in the weather, because they wake up in the dark nest box, before they look out of the tunnel and see if it is light or not.

It could be that they are hungry. They don't stay in front of the nest box for long, but that could be because they are nervous about being out in the light. Things do seem quieter in the evening, once they are up and around. It seems to get the busiest from 3:30 to 6:30. We had another four youngsters eating together outside 9a.

One of them went down on the patio, where he was joined by another waiting patiently in 9d tunnel:

We can't believe how many hedgehogs there are visiting us. Last year we only got two or three visits each night, and we could account for perhaps half a dozen different hedgehogs in total, with Nightshift being the most prominent visitor. I don't think we ever had more than two in the garden at once, and probably only saw two hedgehogs together four or five times.

Seeing four together is really wonderful. They do get a little boisterous, but it's so lovely to see them just eating next to each other - a real privilege. It's interesting to see the different characters, like the timid one in last night's post being pushed out of the way by the other. Also seeing little Alfie up and about first thing, and then Flatmate getting up a couple of hours later.

Nightshift was AWOL from 9c this morning. She hadn't come back. We checked the video from the front and saw her waddling off about 4:30 after spending most of the night in and around 9f. We didn't spot her on a quick scan through the rest of the video, so assumed she'd left 9f, so we took a quick photo:

When we found the hedgehogs were spending time in 9f we gave them a bit of straw for bedding. Up till now this has been left as an amorphous mass in the mornings, but as you can see, there are definite signs of nest-building. We thought it was empty, but we have a suspicion Nightshift may be in there somewhere. We'll find out tonight on the video, when we see where she appears from.

I finally remembered to try the new hedgehog food I found at the garden centre earlier in the week. We put a little in a new bowl outside 9c/9d. I did see Alfie nibble a few of the pieces, but when we looked in the bowl this morning not very much had been taken. I do keep getting told that I'm wasting my time, but I do keep trying...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Don't Hog the Middle Lane

I went "Up North" to visit my father this weekend. Don't worry, my Better Half stayed at home, hedgehog sitting, and checking the hedgehog videos, amongst other things. On the way down this afternoon, one of the overhead signs on the M1 motorway was displaying the message "Don't Hog the Middle Lane." In my one (hedgehog) track mind, that conjured up the image of Nightshift's ample rump between two white dashed lines disappearing into the distance. Would make a great poster, wouldn't it?

When I arrived home, a pair of videos had been selected for tonight's blog, to which the title seemed quite appropriate.

It looks like the first chappie on the ATM got a bit of a fright when the other hedgehog came through, as that's not toothpaste extruding from his rear end.

Nightshift didn't go round the front at all last night, spending a lot of time either on the 9c/9d feeders or in bed in 9c. She was up and about a bit, but not so much. Maybe she was just having a "duvet day".

She nearly had a rude awakening first thing. 9d was up early, as usual - before dark - and went into the tunnel in 9c for a few minutes. Fortunately, he didn't go any further and Nightshift got an extra lie in.

While I was at my father's I took the opportunity to cut some plywood with my circular saw. After thinking about it for a while, we have decided to upgrade 9f (the boiler room at the front) from a pile of straw to a proper hedgehog house. We think 9f should make a good location for hibernation with the brick walls, so we will put a house in the bottom to give any prospective tenants a feeling of security and a bit of privacy. We are considering making it a pair of semis, as there should be room. The number of hedgehogs around is giving us cause for concern that they might not find enough safe places to hibernate. It would be very sad to think that the babies were doing so well, and that they didn't make it through the winter.

When I cut the wood for 9c and 9d, Nightshift was asleep in 9b and didn't seem unduly bothered by the noise of the saw, but a couple of weeks ago I was drilling the outside wall to fix a new bracket for the downpipe after installing a water butt, and poor 9d was very disturbed by the noise. We thought it better to stop as we don't want the hedgehogs to get used to noises like that - the next time it might be a strimmer when they are snoozing in the long grass. So, it's "no more nails" for the downpipe bracket.

At least we will be able to give the hedgehogs rainwater to drink instead of filtered tap water, if it rains - we've only had 1mm of rain since we installed the butt. Our tap water has a nasty chlorine smell - and it just doesn't taste as nice as the wonderful water from my home town! Using bottled water for the hedgies is definitely not environmentally friendly and going a little too far.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Earlier and earlier still

As the nights draw in the hedgehogs are getting up earlier and earlier. As noted in the previous post, we found 9d had been watching us put the food out before it was properly dark.

Last night the first hedgehog was up and out well before it was dark. We think it was 9d. We weren't quite sure, as he had spent the day in 9c. Nightshift had spent the day round the front in 9f.

Alfie was also up and out early, going straight out of the garden. He was back soon after, for his normal evening spent in 9b. He gets up quite frequently for a snack, and we regularly see him like this - his snout reaches the mealworms before his back legs reach the floor, so he just eats like that.

We don't know who the visitor who wanders across half way through, but they don't seem interested in each other.

Since Nightshift had spent the day in 9f at the front, she was there scoffing very early in the evening. I needed to go out to the car about 8:30 pm, so we were on our hands and knees peering through the letter box to make sure she wasn't in front of the door before I opened it - the camera now covers the boiler room door and not the front door.

We saw the other large female again. Thinking about it, we see her most evenings, as she is one of the early risers, but she just wanders up the alley, past the ATM, sometimes snacking on the mealies. She is noticeably darker in colour than most of the other hedgies, but seems quite shy, so we've never really seen enough of her to find out much about her. She is in the garden occasionally, but not every day, nor at a particular time.

Most of the action again seemed to be around 9a, but the tunnelcam IRs burn out a lot of the detail on the general view camera, and I haven't had the time to check the captures and do any editing of the tunnelcam clips, so I think I will finish the post now, and do a bit of editing...

Friday, 25 September 2009

All Change!

Last night started earlier than usual, but it was only when we checked the videos today that we realised just how early. We normally put the food and water out just as it starts to get dark - after the birds have gone to bed, and before the hedgehogs get up. This is getting earlier each night, of course, as the nights draw in, but it also depends on the weather.

It was a lovely sunny day yesterday, and quite warm, and bright, so we thought we'd have a little time to have our meal before the first action. We checked the cameras and found that they were still in daylight mode, which means that it is difficult to see into the tunnels. I went round putting the food and water into all the bowls and then settled down to wait - and we found that 9d had actually been in the tunnel watching me. He had a feed, and then headed off left, up the ramp - he normally goes off right, up the steps.

Shortly afterwards, Alfie came out of 9a, but instead of coming down to the patio for a drink he had a quick feed outside 9a and then squeezed up between 9a and the fence and out.

Nightshift didn't get up until an hour later, and then had a feed by the ATM and left the garden.

The rest of the evening was very quiet. There were still a few visitors, but we didn't see so much happening.

Then, just before 11, a hedgehog went up into 9c and made itself comfy. It may have been 9d, but we aren't sure. It settled down and went to sleep.

We were expecting major ructions soon after when we spotted Nightshift coming back through the ATM, but she didn't come down to the patio and went out again soon after - she spent most of the night at the front.

Alfie did put in an appearance on the patio a little later, and had a nap in 9b.

There was then this interesting little episode. Alfie passed a few minutes earlier, but avoided these two.

We assume the one who went into 9d was hedgie 9d, but we aren't sure, as 9d normally has a mark on his back. Anyway, he wasn't too happy in 9d, because a couple of hours later, he moved:

And he's still in there, enjoying a restful day in 9c.

And what happened to Nightshift? It seems she decided to spend the day in at the front in 9f (the boiler room).

So, we thought that was it - almost everyone seems to have changed their lodgings. Then we looked at 9a... First of all, a lot of the straw inside the tunnel is now outside:

Then we had a look at the videos, and found that was where all the action had been. It must have been quite full in there, because Alfie was asleep in the tunnel - and the straw came out when Flatmate pushed past him, leaving him asleep. We haven't had the time to process the videos from the tunnel cam yet, but things were very busy - the hedgies managed to clear all three bowls of mealworms again. There were four hedgehogs around there at the same time again. But that will come later.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Just like buses

After the initial flurry of activity as the hedgehogs got up, nipped to the loo (yes, they do that when they first get up), had a drink and something to eat and went about their business, it seemed very quiet in the garden last night. There was the odd visitor, but not much happening at all. Then, just like buses, four turned up at once!

The tunnelcam view shows that one chap (probably Flatmate) was sitting in the tunnel and got up when the others arrived. I like the way little Alfie looks over his shoulder as Flatmate comes out.

The same happened on the patio later on. Alfie appeared in front of 9c and had a munch. He moved on, then a minute later up came another chap, followed by Nightshift getting up to see what was going on.

Although the little chap was defensive when Nightshift came out, she allowed him to share the food bowl, so maybe he was one of hers. She did get a bit stroppy with him later, but not as bad as we have seen.

9c had another visitor while Nightshift was out (luckily for him he'd gone before she came back). There was also a visitor in 9d, while little 9d was out. This was a large hedgehog, almost the size of Nightshift, so we think it could be the other female we've seen visiting sometimes. We seen her in the alley quite a few times, and she has been in the garden, but it's the first time on the patio.

I tried another camera last night - another eBay special. I had it on the patio to the right of the 9c/9d Patio2 camera. The extra IR has caused the bowls and the steps to "burn out" and you can see an extra shadow behind the hedgies, in the same way as the tunnelcam has affected the camera outside 9a. This is a "long range" camera with the IR coverage "up to 10 metres" and its own images are burnt out on the hedgehogs a few inches in front of it. I did get it for greater coverage, so that is to be expected. We will try it along the length of the patio tonight, as none of the other cameras have been able to cover the whole patio so we can see what they are getting up to.

We'll have to review the feeding situation again. We put a second bowl in front of the tunnelcam last night, and it meant that Alfie and Flatmate could both eat without too much pushing and shoving, but they managed to empty both bowls. The other bowls were also just about cleared as well. I feel we may not have enough water on the lawn, either, as both bowls were dry this morning - hedgehogs certainly drink a lot, particularly after dried mealworms. There are three other large water bowls on the wall, but we only had one visitor last night, so the hedgies either haven't found them or are too lazy to walk to them - or maybe they just aren't thirsty.

In the spring we did have one hedgehog coming for a couple of weeks just for a drink. He came in under the decking, walked directly across the middle of the lawn, past two bowls of mealworms, and had a drink. He then retraced his steps. We never saw him eat anything, but he always had a good drink.

Finally, as shot of the aftermath of hungry hedgehogs - hungry starlings:

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Nightshift, Alfie and Friends

Nightshift hardly visited the front of the house last night, and returned to 9c quite early. She'd had a visitor in 9c, who slept in the bedroom for about an hour and then got up and laid in the entrance tunnel. Nightshift was eating outside, apparently oblivious of his presence until she headed for bed. She then didn't quite seem to know what to do about him, going to the entrance and then moving away. It would have been nice to have sound on this recording - I wonder if she was giving him a huffing. In the end, she just trampled over the poor chap.

He then got up and went straight up to 9a and barged in there.

Although Alfie is still spending the evenings in 9b (he's asleep in the 9b tunnel as I write this, with his legs splayed out) he still seems to call 9a "Home", since he took two more lots of leaves into 9a - the only hedgehog we've seen carrying materials into the nest.

He's still sharing with Flatmate, and they came out together to share a meal a couple of times. These are on the tunnelcam - I've got the basic editing sorted, so I can cut out the interesting bits from the 12 hours of video each night.

Alfie was quite hungry this morning, as he kept coming out of 9a for a quick snack. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have put enough mealies in the bowl - it was completely empty, and he was looking all round it. There were plenty of mealies elsewhere, and he went to the second bowl by 9a and also up to the decking feeder. We have put a second bowl of mealies next to the first in front of the tunnel cam tonight.

We have eight bowls of mealies around the garden, plus a scattering on both sides of the ATM, so we hope there is enough food around for all, and that one bullying hedgie won't stop the others getting something to eat. The ATM is proving to be quite a meeting point, and we see quite a bit of pushing and shoving. This poor hedgie not only got butted back through the ATM, but the "butter" came through the ATM to finish him off, before returning through the ATM. The first hedgie was shell-shocked and seemed to have trouble standing up again, but got through the ATM in the end. He seems to be caught in a loop of string, but it's actually a part of the ivy which grows over the alley.

Finally, a nice clip which shows hedgehogs can get on well together... most of the time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Back to normal

After Nightshift being missing the whole day and Alfie missing for half the day, things were more or less back to normal last night.

Nightshift returned and spent the night scoffing mealies, both at the front and in the back garden, sampling most of the different feeders. She does keep going missing for an hour or so, so we hope she is also foraging and getting food elsewhere.

She is getting quite aggressive now, and poor little Alfie has been on the receiving end more than once.

Alfie got caught in a hedgie jam as he was trying to come through the ATM. He was just about to enter when he met one coming the other way. After a major pushing match, the other chap won through. He didn't realise there was another hedgie waiting patiently to come in as well.

Nightshift had a squatter, but he moved out before she returned, lucky for him. We think it was 9d, as he seems to like trying different nests.

Finally, here's a nice little scratch on the ATM:

Monday, 21 September 2009

Stop Press!

Nightshift has returned... and left again. Just as I'd posted the last blog Nightshift wandered down the alley and through the ATM, munching mealies as if nothing had happened - which as far as she was concerned, it hadn't. She was in the garden for a while, going down to the bowl outside 9c, but instead of going home she went out again. No doubt she'll be back in the morning.

Alfie's still in 9a.

O, Nightshift, Nightshift, wherefore are thou, Nightshift?

Yes, as you may have guessed, Nightshift has gone missing. Just as she seemed to be settling into a steady routine, she confused us by changing it. A couple of nights ago, instead of going out exploring and spending the night around the front, sleeping in the boiler room, stayed in the garden, munching outside 9c and then nipping back into bed in 9c.

Last night she seemed to be back to normal, getting up and going out, spending a lot of time at the front. She came back just before five this morning, having a last mealie before bed. She looked as if she was just about to go into 9c when she changed her mind and dashed out of the garden:

and she didn't come back. We hope she's all right - we've been worrying about her! Hopefully, she'll be back tonight as normal.

Nightshift was not the only hedgie behaving strangely. Alfie and Flatmate had a visitor, and the straw in 9a was exhibiting major earthquakes. Unfortunately, they've moved the straw over the cameras, so all we can see is the straw moving. Anyway, things calmed down, and the visitor may have left - we didn't get the chance to check all of the captures.

Then at dinner time (lunch time for those south of Watford) I was just looking at the monitors (the poor hedgies have 24-hour monitoring) when I saw little Alfie vacating 9a. We think he must have had a fight with Flatmate. Very strange behaviour - when we checked back on the other cameras, he had come out of 9a tunnel and turned left, squeezing between the nest box and the fence, rather than turning right and crossing the lawn. So, he made it out under the decking without being seen. Unfortunately, we didn't catch him on the tunnelcam as it had been tipped over by a starling ten minutes earlier!

He seems to be all right, because he came back tonight at first dark. He's had something to eat, and had a couple of snoozes in 9b. It looks as if he's now made friends with Flatmate again, because he's just gone into 9a.

Let's hope Nightshift is back soon.

Here's a recording made from one of the recorders we use for the hedgiecams. Each recorder records four cameras, and you can playback each channel separately, or all four at once. This is showing all four cameras, which is quite neat as it allows the events from several cameras to be linked together. The time in yellow is the time of the recording. Alfie is asleep in 9b bedroom. On the patio (outside 9b) hedgie 9d and goes into 9b. This wakes up Alfie. After a short time 9d comes out again. He exits the Patio cam right and shortly after can be seen arriving home in 9d bedroom. 2009/09/21 19:18:47

When I've had a bit more practice editing videos it would be neat to splice the different clips together...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Alfie III

Alfie the baby hedgehog didn't return home to 9a the night before last. We don't know where he stayed, or why he stayed out all night. He did return last night, but it wasn't easy for the little chap.

His first attempt to return was under the decking. Unfortunately, just as he was on his way in, he got a fright - a cat tried to get under the decking. Poor Alfie ran off.

A little later he reappeared in the alley and tried to get in via the ATM. Unfortunately, Nightshift was on the other side of the ATM munching away on mealies. Alfie caught sight of her and wandered off up the alley. He came back a few moments later, and she was still there, so he squeezed in past her.

When he finally got into the garden, he spent most of the evening in 9b, as usual, except that we managed to startle the poor chap by opening the back door just as he was about to go in. He did go in a few minutes later.

He returned to 9a this morning as usual and was first up this evening, although he did go back in after a quick snack. He's on his normal routine again now.

As 9b was unoccupied during the day we sneaked a quick look inside, as he'd managed to get some straw over the camera, and he's got a lovely little best built.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Alfie 2: The Sequel

Alfie the baby hedgehog continued to entertain, amaze and surprise us last night, and again this morning when we checked the overnight video captures.

For a few nights Alfie has been leaving 9a, where he spends the day, and going almost immediately into 9b, where he spends a few hours snoozing and popping out for the odd snack. Last night he was joined fairly quickly by 9d, the slightly larger hedgie living in 9d. We were expecting fireworks, but they were actually very well behaved, just falling asleep with Alfie well inside the nest and 9d just inside the bedroom. It was quite warm last night, and 9d was suffering from the heat as he moved into the entrance tunnel and again fell asleep. Soon after, Alfie woke up and decided he wanted a snack, and as you can see he made sure he got one. When poor 9d had recovered he went back to bed in 9d.

In the early hours, Alfie came back to find another hedgie on the food bowl. The other hedgie took exception and they had a pushing match. Alfie was much smaller and came off worse, but he certainly put up a fight.

We were amazed to see him soon after bringing in some nesting supplies under the decking

which he then took into 9a:

A little later he shared a meal with a friend, possibly 9d:

Unfortunately, later on, Alfie has a snack and goes away, and out comes Flatmate... followed by another friend.

Poor Alfie! Is this the end of the friendship, or are they just having a friend for a sleepover? After this video, before daylight, Alfie brought in two more lots of nesting material - but he didn't stay the night in either 9a or 9b. We don't know what happened to him. Perhaps he went to his old nest?

Last night seemed much warmer, and the hedgehogs seemed much lest active. Nightshift spent most of the night in the garden, eating from the bowl outside 9c, then going into 9c for a snooze. She didn't go round to the front of the house at all. 9d was also hanging around quite a lot. Only Alfie seemed to be working.

In case you are wondering... yes, Alfie did come back this evening.

Friday, 18 September 2009


This last few nights, we have been witnessing the emergence of another star of the hedgehog videos - Alfie. This little chap (or chapess, we're not sure) has been coming into the garden for a while. He started off as one of the Tinas but he has acquired more and more marks on his spines, so that he is now very easy to identify, rather than just another Tina.

We don't know what causes the marks on the spines, but we feel that they are caused by scraping against fences and gates as they push through. Perhaps they are the result of encounters with other hedgehogs. Whatever, Alfie has more than any of the other hedgehogs.

He seems to be one of the smaller hedgehogs visiting us, but its not for want of food - he seems to get plenty to eat, but he is running all over the place.

He is still spending every day with his flatmate in 9a, but soon after dark he gets up, comes down onto the patio for a long drink and a meal, and then goes into 9b for a few hours sleep, getting up a few times for a snack, before finally going out of the garden in the early hours.

He seems quite aggressive, pushing at a number of other hedgies, although these small ones seem to put up quite some resistance.

He did get off to a bad start last night - he arrived on the patio just after Nightshift got up, and Nightshift doesn't stand for any messing around:

He was a bit more relaxed here, but probably only because he'd just woken up:

He's on good form here:

and he's just getting ready for bed with his flatmate:

This evening all the hedgehogs have been behaving a little differently from the last week. It could be a change in the weather or something, but they all seem to be taking things easy.

9d was up very early - it was still quite light. He then went straight into 9b for a snooze. Alfie got up from 9a and went into 9b, fortunately just after 9d had left. He's still in there, at 23:18.

Nightshift got up, had a big meal outside 9c, popped out of the garden for half and hour, came back, had another long meal and went back to bed.

9d came back into the garden - and went into 9b for a snooze, while Alfie was still inside. Alfie accepted it quite happily. A little later 9d got up and fell asleep in the tunnel of 9b, only to get forcibly ejected when Alfie wanted to go out.

Nightshift was asleep in the entrance of 9c.

And through all this, Alfie's flatmate is still asleep in 9a!

So, at the moment, we have a hedgehog in all four nest boxes.

We'll post some of tonight's videos in the next blog, when things have quietened down.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Musical Nest boxes...

Following on from last night's exploration of Nightshift's nest box by Alfie the baby hedgehog, the hedgie living in 9d (whom we have christened, strangely enough, 9d) decided to get in on the act, testing out both Alfie's night-time resting place (9b):

and Nightshift's residence:

Alfie is still getting up just after dark and then going down to 9b. He was in and out quite a few times until the early hours, when he finally made the effort and went out of the garden. He met someone on his way in

and later on had another disagreement with another baby. We aren't sure who this baby is - we didn't see it come into the garden, but we don't think it's Alfie's flat mate from 9a. Although Alfie seems to come off best, it doesn't just give up and curl up.

Finally, Alfie goes back to bed, back in 9a. The bright light here is the infra-red from the new tunnelcam.

Nightshift spent most of the night at the front. One of our neighbours called round and as he was standing at the front door she ran between his legs. She finished off another saucer of mealworms at the front.

Alfie's flat mate was late getting up - after 11 pm - but it did go on its travels. 9d finally chose to stay in 9d, after testing 9b and 9c.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The same old routine...

The local hedgehogs are settling into a routine. First up is 9d. He doesn't even bother with much to each, but is up and out of the garden. Two hours later he comes back and goes to bed for a couple of hours. Then he does the same thing again. Finally, he gets back between five and six, when he has a good meal and drink and then he goes to bed. We topped up the straw in his tunnel.

Then Nightshift gets up. She goes out fairly quickly, and doesn't normally come back into the garden until after five am. But she's now spending most of her time at the front, eating and then snoozing in the boiler room. She had a saucer full of mealworms last night.

Next comes little Alfie. He is still very tiny, to the extent that we are getting worried about how small he still is. He gets up from 9a, which he is sharing with another baby during the day, and comes onto the patio for a drink and something to eat. He then normally goes out exploring

then comes back and goes to sleep in 9b.

but he still goes home to 9a each morning.

Finally, the other hedgie in 9a gets up, had a meal and goes out. We don't really know much about this one - it just seems to sleep in the garden during the day, and doesn't get up to much in the garden.

Then we have the assorted visitors, who just call in for a meal and a drink. One arrives in the alley fairly early in the evening, munches outside the ATM and leaves, without coming in. There's another who just uses the garden as a transit between the ATM and the decking, although we suspect it has a quick nibble on the feeder by the decking.

Of course, if they were totally predictable they wouldn't be hedgehogs. Last night Alfie snook into Nightshift's pad while she was out:

During the day, Nightshift and 9d have been very busy in the nests, rearranging the furniture. We can't really see what they have been doing, but they have been very busy.

Finally, we had quite a surprise - a robin taking a bath in the twilight. It was quite dark - the cameras had already switched to infra-red - when we caught this on the water cam:

Getting Comfortable

When we cleaned out the nest boxes a few weeks ago, we put newspaper on the floor, and then quite a lot of straw, along with a fleece blanket. We don't take too much time putting the straw in, as we know the hedgehogs will rearrange it all to their own liking. A few nights ago we saw that the hedgehogs in 9a had moved all the straw in the tunnel and hall into the bedroom, so we put more straw outside. Sure enough, they took some of the straw in.

We saw they were all rearranging the nests, so we put some more straw in each tunnel. 9d tunnel was full, but the little chap in 9d had moved some of it inside. By the time of this video, the tunnel was half empty, and the hedgehog can be seen both pulling the straw in, and carrying some inside in its mouth.

This afternoon the weather changed - it got decidedly windy and was threatening a storm. The hedgehogs in the three occupied nests - 9a, 9c and 9d - all started rearranging the nests. We added some extra straw into all the tunnels, so they could add it as they wanted.

We have decided to call the baby hedgehog with the A on its back "Alfie". It (we still don't know if it's a boy or a girl) still seems very small compared to the others, but it is full of life. At the moment it is spending the day in 9a, but it then gets up and explores and feeds, and has taken to having a couple of hours sleep in 9b. It had a struggle to get in tonight, with all the extra straw we'd put in, but it made it.

We found this lovely capture from 9e, the feeding station. Another hedgie is feeding when in comes Alfie and wants his share of the mealies- so he moves the bowl and climbs in.

9d seems to be settling into a routine - first up, just as it gets dark. A quick sip of water and a nibble of mealies, before heading out through the ATM. Two hours later he's back, straight into bed in 9d for two hours sleep, then up and about.

He mistimed things this morning. He was on the mealie bowl outside 9c when Nightshift got up, and pushed him off the bowl. The poor little chap kept trying to get in, but Nightshift stopped him. In the end he wandered off and came back later.

Nightshift acquired two more distinct marks last night, as can be seen in the video above. They are dark, which is very unusual - they normally acquire light-coloured marks. We don't know what it is, but we think it is something stuck to her.

We always have plenty of water about. There are two small bowls on the patio, and one on the lawn. There are also three large ones on the wall, which serve as bird baths during the day. The one closest the camera is quite a step up. Nightshift has no problems, but the night before last we saw one of the babies trying to reach the water and giving up, so we put an upturned seed tray in front. Here one of the little chaps tests it out.

The water bowl on the lawn is a hedgehog bowl like the ones in front of 9c/9d. We top it up to overflowing every evening and every morning it is almost dry. We must set up a camera to monitor it, to see what is drinking all the water. We can't believe the hedgehogs drink it all - it must be cats.

I went out early this morning, before the starlings came, to check the status of all the bowls, and they were all very low. The hedgehogs are getting very hungry. I suppose they are growing, but I fear it also means that natural food is in short supply. It has been very dry lately, so maybe the insect population is low. I suppose the number of hedgehogs may also have something to do with it. There were five hedgehogs in the garden at the same time tonight, and Nightshift was elsewhere at the time.

She has taken to spending three or four hours at the front, munching then snoozing in the boiler room, then doing the same again. Then she goes home to 9c around 4:30 to 5:00.

They all seem healthy, although we thought we saw a tick on the face of one of them tonight. Lets hope they continue to thrive.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hot-bunking Hedgehogs

It looks as though we are suffering from a shortage of hedgehog accommodation in the area - watching the Tunnelcam this evening we saw two hedgies hot-bunking - one came out of the tunnel and had just started on his mealworms when up came another hedgehog, straight into the tunnel:

The chappie who comes out could be the one with the A on his rear - we're not quite sure who he is any more, but we think he's been napping in 9b, and possibly is Nightshift's second in 9c.

Ten minutes later another hedgie went into the tunnel - not sure if it was the one who had just come out or another one. This is definitely "A".

A little later "A" comes out again, has a snack, thinks about going for another nap, changes his mind and goes out under the decking.

And finally, the other chap comes out.

They certainly get around quite a lot, but we don't think they can be ranging so far. The little hedgie living in 9d is always first up at night, and he zips out of the garden, but he's back in bed a couple of hours later, for a couple of hours snooze. At least it seems that they are finding food elsewhere and not just living solely on a diet of mealworms.

They all seem to have their own little itineraries. These two went out under the decking. Others use the ATM. Some go to the patio, others don't. At the same time, they do have a little variation. Nightshift sometimes uses the ramp, sometimes the steps to get to the patio - but it shows she knows her way around.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

News from the Front

The last few mornings we have found evidence of quite a lot of hedgehog activity at the front of the house, in the form of empty mealworm saucers and large hedgehog poos, so we decided to reinstate the "front cam" to see what was going on. We moved the camera so that it looked towards the door to the boiler room. There has been evidence of hedgehogs in the boiler room each morning, although we aren't sure if any have stayed during the day.

We were rather surprised at the activity. The main culprit was Nightshift. She had a good snack of mealworms - then went into the boiler room for a nap. Then up for a snack, and back for a nap. She did this four or five times during the night, although she did leave the area once or twice.

Later in the night, a second hedgie arrived, just as Nightshift was tucking in... so Nightshift bulldozed it away. It hung around for a while, and when Nightshift went into the boiler room again, it had a very light snack - Nightshift had already cleared the saucer for the second time (we had to refill it about 9pm).

The newcomer then went into the boiler room as well. We expected one hedgehog to vacate the area very quickly, but they were in together for a while, then they left separately. Unfortunately, I haven't sorted the video editing yet, so no clip for this yet.

We also got a nice clip from the "Tunnel Cam", the other new camera, which looks up the tunnel of 9a. Unfortunately, the camera was aimed a bit low and the reflections from the vegetation affected the exposure, but it's quite a nice shot of the hedgie coming down the tunnel. What we didn't realise until the fourth viewing is that it's joined by a second hedgie.

Both this and the Front camera are on my "Ebay Special" USB capture unit, which can only record a single channel at once, so we manually select the channel, but at least we can see several cameras at once. I left it recording the front when I went to bed, so I've a 2GB capture file to check through.

We had three nest boxes occupied during the day today - 9a with one definite. There may still be another as there have been some triggers, but it seems a little late now.

Nightshift was in 9c, although we aren't sure what happened to her little one - we haven't seen it tonight.

The little hedgie in 9d was very restless during the day and was out as soon at it got dark. It likes to go out for an hour or two then comes back to 9d for a nap.

Little baby was in 9b for a couple of hours during the night, but left. We still think this is the one who stays with Nightshift. but we just get more and more confused. Perhaps she's moved out as well?

Hedgehogs are great climbers. Normally they shuffle along, quite often with no visible means of support, but you can see their feet as they climb in and out of the ATM. The normal route the hedgies use from the lawn to the patio is the ramp at the left. When the babies arrived they found the tops of the steps, but couldn't get down, so we added a few extra bricks and a wooden ramp to make things easier for the little ones. As you can see, they can go up rather well now:

Nightshift is quite capable of using the steps in their original form - they are two courses of housebricks high.

No more Tinas

Don't worry - not a mass disappearance of all the baby hedgehogs. Quite the reverse, in fact. It just dawned on me that we are no longer referring to the baby hedgehog as Tina. I suppose when we confirmed there were at least four Tinas we gave up. We have no idea how many Tinas there are now.

There is a Tina in 9d. It seems to have moved in as it has been staying for several days now. although it goes out of the garden several times each night. It has a lot of marks on its back.

Nightshift's older Tina is still living with her (we think) although Nightshift seems to be a very liberal mother, letting it go out on its own each night - and letting it have a lie-in at getting up time. It has got a distinctive marking on its rear end, which looks very much like a capital A. It started off as \, became ^ and now looks like the full A. None of the others have recognisable letters on them, so we think it's just an accident.

It actually spent a couple of hours in 9b, giving it a full inspection, but it still went "home" to 9c.

We're not sure about Nightshift's baby Tina, aka Saffy. We think we've seen her several times, since her poorly foot looks larger than usual, but we can't be certain.

There are two Tinas using 9a. One stays all day, the other pops in during the night... except that all-day Tina popped out at lunchtime today. I just glanced the camera under the decking whilst having my lunch, and saw a hedgie. It seems she just got up, and went out. When under the decking she looked as if she was going back in, but changed her mind. She turned up and went into 9a again just after dark.

There is at least one Tina who just uses the garden as a link between the alley and the decking - we think.

Recognition is getting more and more difficult, as they seem to be getting more and more marks on their backs. Even Nightshift had a new identity when she got up tonight. We assume they get the marks trying to squeeze under fences and the like, but we wonder if it could indicate the pending arrival of some late autumn babies in Nightshift's case.

We reinstated the camera at the front to see what was happening, since the mealies seem to be getting a real munching. We repositioned it to view the door to the boiler room, as we seem to be getting a visitor, but can't tell if anybody is in or not. We've seen Nightshift has visited the front three times so far tonight, and each time she went into the boiler room for five or ten minutes. Too short for a nap?

We set up another camera - the 9a Tunnelcam - looking up the tunnel into 9a. There are too many leaves in the frame, which are affecting the automatic exposure, so we need to fix it tomorrow. It's connected to the "ebay special" USB video capture stick. It was very cheap and gives reasonable quality captures, but it has a major limitation. Although it can connect to four cameras, and display pictures from all four at once, in record mode it will only record a single channel, and that stops it displaying the other three cameras. Still, it's useful for monitoring four lesser-used cameras and we can just manually record anything interesting. As it cost less than 1/20 the price of our main recorders, it's a useful addition.

Friday, 11 September 2009


The summer is ending and the nights are getting colder, and the hedgehogs are feeling it. We again had three nest boxes occupied last night. 9a had a a small baby in all day yesterday and it was in there today as well. It also had several visitors during the night.

Nightshift and her larger baby were in all day yesterday and all day today, although they were out (separately) most of last night. We don't know what has happened to Nightshift's smaller one, Saffy with the poorly foot. We are getting quite worried that she's on her own, but she seemed well able to look after herself. It may even be her in 9a - every time we see a baby on the cameras we try and look at the front right foot.

A large hoglet was in 9d yesterday and today, and it came back several times last night for a nap (or a warm?)

We had put some straw in 9a when we cleaned it out, but after seeing the babies moving all the straw from the hall into the bedroom, we added a fleece and a lot more straw. The extra straw in the hall was also moved into the bedroom. Yesterday morning we saw a hedgie collecting up some of the loose straw we'd dropped and carrying it into the nest in its mouth:

so we put a couple of handfuls of straw into the tunnel and left a large pile of straw by the entrance to the tunnel. It seems this was much appreciated.

The hedgie continued for quite a while after this clip, adding more straw. Surprisingly, it then wandered off out of the garden, and spent the day elsewhere, but there is a small hedgehog in 9a. Could it be that it was looking after its sibling? It seems strange to put in all that effort and then go away.

Here's a clip of Nightshift under the decking in January, after she'd woken up from hibernation, collecting nest material:

Back to last night, it was the coldest night so far last night, and the hoglet in 9d was also pulling in the straw, so we put more in the tunnel for it as well. We've been round today and put more straw in the tunnels, and added more to 9b, which is still empty.

There were lots of babies in and out of the garden during the night, but we only saw one large adult besides Nightshift, and that was tucking in to the mealworms in 9e, the plastic box feeder. We saw it leaving about 6:15 this morning, just as it was getting light.

We are still getting the visitors at the front - there may be one in the boiler room at the moment. Unfortunately, we've discontinued the camera temporarily. The video capture stick collects .avi files, which I've been processing using Windows Movie Maker - we've never had a video camera, so we've never done any video editing, so we never had any software. I found Movie Maker is free, and it serves for what we need, which is just to cut out the hedgie clips. Unfortunately, after three days use it now tries to save to CD instead of disk, whatever I tell it to do. Seems to be a common problem, so it's on hold until I fix it or sort out an alternative, otherwise we'd get totally snowed under with videos. The other cameras are on hard disk recorders, and just overwrite the old video.

We had a lovely little visitor to 9e.

This seems to be Nightshift's larger one... must think up a name for it, as it's so much easier to use a name. It is certainly enjoying paddling in mealies. We've given up on the idea of a mixed diet. A few nights ago we put some chopped peanuts and sunflower kernels into 9e. A total disaster. Not a single hedgie visited 9e that night! Not only that, we had 88 motion detect captures of mice. There are a few mice around the garden - not really surprising as we are in a village in the country - but we'd never seen a mouse in 9e. The following night was mealies only, so the hedgies were back, with a few mice visits. Fortunately, no more mice since then.

Wonder if we'll see little Saffy tonight...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Catching up...

We're still trying to catch up with things after all the excitement of the night before last, when Nightshift moved back into the garden, into nest box 9c, bringing two little hoglets with her. We were still looking at some of the clips today.

Last night seemed much quieter by comparison, although there was quite a lot of activity on the patio which left us rather confused as to who was where.

The conclusion we came to was that Nightshift spent today in 9c with the elder of her two babies in 9c. We aren't certain where her tiny hoglet was, but we think it spent the day alone in 9a. This is the hoglet with the suspect foot, whom we have christened Saffy.

A larger hoglet spent the day in 9d. What is confusing is that the markings on the chap are very similar to the one in 9c.

After Nightshift moved the babies in, she went out of the garden and left them to their own devices. She seems to have told them that is is their new home, but they seem pretty independent. We don't know if Saffy couldn't find the way home or just decided to go it alone.

Nightshift's other baby even ventured into 9b. It had a good sniff round and came out - we wondered if it had gone into the wrong box. Nightshift has lost interest in it completely. We cleaned it out and put fresh straw in, but she hasn't even been close enough to find out.

At one time we had five hedgies in the garden, in different areas, all bar Nightshift being babies - don't know what's happened to the older ones. Most of the time the babies seem to get on OK, but we did have a bit of pushing and shoving.

Here's Nightshift getting up with baby:

Two of the hoglets eating side by side on the ATM. Look how the one one the right seems to be expecting a nudge from the other one:

Here they are a little later after moving outside:

and here's the little chap going to bed in 9d:

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I'm not sure if I should write this post...

I'm not sure if I should be writing this post, following the post of G L Wilson in his lovely Hog Blog. He hasn't seen any hedgies for a few days, and the camera he uses to get his great captures has broken down. I hope this post doesn't make him more miserable. Seeing his hedgehog blog convinced me to start this one, to share the antics of these adorable creatures. It may help to cheer him up, so "GL", this is for you.

As reported last night, the was a lot of activity, mainly Nightshift-related. She was seen leading small hoglets in and out of the garden, around the garden and in and out of 9c. One tiny baby, who we think has a poorly foot, seemed to be following her a lot, but on further examination of the video clips this morning, Nightshift may have been showing more than one baby around - some clips seem to show an unmarked baby, some show quite distinct markings.

Nightshift brings the first baby:

and while Nightshift continues, baby stops for a meal. She looks very hungry:

A short while later Nightshift leaves, realises she has two in convoy, and returns them. One of the two seems to be the baby who was feeding in the previous clip.

The view from the other side:

Then she shows the way down to the patio and points out the preferred accommodation in 9c:

Nightshift lived in 9b for ages, until a squatter trashed the place (poo everywhere!) and she doesn't even look at the place now. Next back up to the water:

And here Nightshift leads her into 9c, although at first it seems Nightshift was considering 9d.

After they came up, Nightshift went out of the garden, leaving the baby exploring, It went all over the patio, behind all three nest boxes and generally getting to know its way round. It went up the ramp to the lawn and found its way back down later.

When we got up this morning we did the usual check of the accommodation. No sign of anyone in 9a, but there are triggers, so they are hidden in the straw in the bedroom. It was much colder this morning than yesterday.

9d is occupied by a baby, as we could see it on the video.

We couldn't tell with 9c, as when Nightshift went in for the first time last night she was feeling shy, and moved some straw over the camera. We expected to see the little baby with the poorly foot in there, as she had been shown 9c by Nightshift, and I saw her find her own way in about 2am. We were therefore surprised to see a trigger at about 9:30 this morning, and Nightshift came into the tunnel and lay down looking out. Apologies for the quality, but it's through the not-too-clean window (must clean it later) and getting reflections from the room. We don't know if baby is in with her. On several of the clips of baby, it seemed to be pushing its snout under Nightshift - looking to suckle, perhaps? Baby did drink an awful lot last night - about 12 minutes in one stint, and it had a good meal of mealies, too. This is the first time Nightshift has stayed for the day since July, so it may be she's returned and brought the family. We will see tonight...

Finally, a bit of technology. We have a Weather Station, which links to a PC. We are interested in something besides hedgehogs. It has three remote sensors, so we have one each in 9a, 9b and 9c. The one in 9a is on the ceiling, which is quite high, so it sort of gives the general temperature. 9b, 9c and 9d are all quite low, so the temperature sensors are on the wall in the bedroom. They do register the presence of the hedgehog quite well. This one at 9 o'clock this morning shows a fair bit of activity:

This is a capture at 12:00. Note that the graph autoscales, so the peaks are the same as the previous clip, but the temperature went up to 32 degrees C. That sudden temperature rise must mean Nightshift is leaning on the sensor.

So that's it for now. Having lots of cameras gives some great views, but on nights like this it takes two days to process one night's videos - and we have some work to do as well...Got to earn the money to buy all those mealworms.

Has anyone else seen how the mother disperses the hoglets? I have seen reports on other sites saying that the babies follow the mother for a couple of weeks, but last night was the first time we saw any following Nightshift. There have been quite a few hoglets around, but they didn't seem to have been following an adult when they first arrived.