Saturday, 31 October 2009

3 visits... but only one visitor

We had three hedgehog visits last night,but think it was the same hedgie on all three occasions. The first visit was on schedule for the regular visitor, with a good meal on the ATM, a good long drink and then out - but no visit under the decking. It was quite a long visit - over 11 minutes total, so this is at double speed.

We were then surprised to see a hedgehog arrive in the alley about 9:40 pm. We think it's the same hedgie, and just for a bite to eat, with no drink.

Finally, just before midnight, another visit, with drink. Again, the same hedgie as before, and so probably the same as one of the two from the previous night. We think it's the one we brought in for a check up and a weigh. We wonder if this is the final top-up of the year... Double speed.

And lastly, a different visitor. Maybe this little frog feels safe now Nightshift is away.

Friday, 30 October 2009

A surprise visit

Since Indy departed a few nights ago, we've been down to a single visitor, arriving between 7 and 8 pm, having quite a good snack of mealworms on the ATM, a long drink on the lawn, a spell doing who-knows-what under the decking, and then a swift return through the ATM.

Last night was the same procedure, except for his innovative use of the lawn feeding bowl as a seat:

I'm still working on a customer site, which means I need up be up at 5:30, so I try and get to bed earlier than I usually do. For some reason, last night I just didn't seem to be able to drag myself off to bed - must have been my hedgie detector working overtime, because about a quarter to midnight I was just thinking I really must go to bed, when I looked at the Alley cam - to see a hedgehog! Not only that, as very short time later a second one appeared. He got a bit of a pushing from the first chap, but he stayed around and they both ended up munching on the ATM. We don't know who they were, but we were certain neither were the visitor from earlier.

We decided we'd try and give them a quick check up, in case the sudden appearance of two hedgehogs was a sign of trouble. Unfortunately, the ATM is right at the back of the pitch dark garden, so wee set off with a small torch.

The reaction of the two hedgehogs is interesting. As you can see, when they hear me, they both stop eating and look up. But then one does a runner, straight for the decking and out, whilst the other just curls up.

I couldn't even find the one who ran - he was out very quickly, but it would seem he knows his way round and is one of the regulars.

I picked the other one up and brought it in for a quick check and a weigh. We find it very difficult to judge the size of the hedgehogs on the cameras, and we felt these two were not over large. When I actually saw him close up I realised he was quite large. The weigh-in confirmed it - 845g, so this chap should be in with a good chance this winter. He was very reluctant to uncurl, so after a quick check for ticks (none, I'm happy to say) we put him back on the ATM and left him to it. It seems he got quite a fright, since he stayed curled up for six minutes before opening up and departing. Sorry, little guy, but we just wanted to make sure you were all right.

We think this warm weather must be confusing the hedgies - the minimum temperature was 12 degrees C last night. Its forecast to get colder over the weekend, so I think these chaps should settle down as well.

When the hedgehog's away...

... the cats will play. We haven't seen Indy for two days, so it does look as though he's hibernating, so we were quite excited when we saw the other mealworm bowl had been disturbed yesterday. The mealworms hadn't been eaten, just disturbed, so we wondered if Fussy, the hedgehog who doesn't like mealworms, had been around. We put some hedgehog nibbles in the two bowls at the front for last night, just in case.

When we checked this morning, the hedgehog bites had been eaten - but when we checked it was a cat, the one which had met Indy a couple of times earlier in the week. We like the way it peeps under the door when it first arrives, perhaps checking Indy has gone?

We checked through the notes, and Indy moved into 9f on the 4th October.

Meanwhile, back at the back... the visitor is still following his regular routine - mealworms at the ATM, drink on the lawn, out under the decking for half an hour, then back out through the ATM. When he reappears under the decking he's got leaves on his snout, so he's been snuffling around.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Au Revoir, Indy

It seems that Indy, the indecisive hedgehog who couldn't decide whether to sleep in the left-hand or right-hand nest box in the boiler room, and has been moving between the two several times each night, has finally made his mind up, and gone into hibernation.

He was very late getting up, and only had a small amount to eat before going back to bed. Then, at 3:37 am, he got up, sniffed at his food bowl and left... and he didn't come back.

He's been out for a few hours each night, hopefully building himself a nice, snug hibernaculum for the winter. so, it seems he's ready. It's been quite mild recently, although it was chilly and damp when I went out this morning, so it seems he's been taking advantage of a few extra days of feeding, but had decided it's time to go.

So, good luck for the winter, little chap, and see you in the spring.

That leaves us with just the visitor. As usual, he had a snack at the ATM, but he then went straight to the decking, and was out for about fifty minutes, before returning for a good drink one the lawn, and then out through the ATM.

It can only be another day or two before he also hibernates.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Same procedure as last night...

Still two hedgehogs... These two chaps seem to be hanging on, and with the current mild weather we wonder how much longer they will still be around - will they get fed up waiting and hibernate anyway, or will they wait until the next cold spell.

The visitor was around for a little longer than the last few nights - we have about 14 minutes of him on video, so this clip is slightly speeded up to get it under the 10 minute youtube limit.

He was missing under the decking for over half an hour this time, instead of his customary five minutes, so we wondered if he was making up for the missed visit last night, when he was startled on the lawn. He even went back down to the lawn feeder, although he seems to be drinking more than eating.

Indy is still at the front, although he didn't come out as many times, but he's still eating, and he again went out for a couple of hours before coming back to bed for the day.

What we have noticed is that we don't need to do a "poo patrol" any more. When he first moved in, there was an awful lot of hedgie poo around. We thought he might be using one of the two nestboxes as a toilet, but think it's unlikely as he does spend a lot of time in both. We assumes he's going when he's on his travels - or the poor little chap has terrible constipation.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

And still there are two

Nothing new to report... We still have two hedgehogs around. It seems very strange that we are still getting two hedgehogs when all the other hedgies disappeared a good few days ago.

The visitor came in, but didn't make it as far as the decking - he was on the lawn feeder when something startled him. We think it was next door closing their back door. Whatever it was, he beat a hasty retreat out of the ATM.

Indy is still living at the front, and he's still out exploring for a couple of hours in the early hours of the morning. Here he arrives back home, without stopping for anything to eat.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Windy for Indy

It was very windy last night, and many of the leaves came down, so that the trees across the road from us have lost many of their leaves, and the lawn and the garden and the road are covered in leaves. It would be ideal nesting material for the hedgehogs, if they hadn't already disappeared, we hope safely into hibernacula for the winter.

The disappearance was so quick we still have a worry that something happened to almost all of the local hedgehogs, but we hope they are all right.

The wind blew the boiler room door open, so we got a better view of Indy going into 9f (left). We were worried the extra accessibility might frighten him off, but it didn't seem to bother him. He left the area for a couple of hours and then came back about 4am this morning (which would have been 5am if we hadn't put the clocks back). He didn't eat as much as he has the last few nights.

The visitor is still coming, surprisingly. He came in through the ATM and went out under the decking within three minutes flat, before returning back in under the decking about a half an hour later, but at least this time on his way back out, he decided to made a detour to the lawn feeder for a brief snack and quite a lot to drink before heading through the ATM into the alley.

On the bird front, the starlings were back in force this morning, two brief visits with probably about forty birds descending on the garden for a couple of minutes, clearing up all the mealworms in the hedgehog bowls. We had three blackbirds on the front lawn, and one in the back, the first blackbirds we've seen for several weeks.

The camera we have looking over the garden has quite spectacular views of all the starlings, but the video compression can't cope with the speed the birds move at, so we will try it on the DVD recorder, since it now seems redundant in its task of monitoring the hedgehogs on the patio.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Indy stands his ground

We had a surprise tonight - a visitor in the back garden. Since he didn't come last night, we assumed he was hibernating, but apparently not just yet. Mind you, he didn't hang around. A quick snack at the ATM, then out under the decking for a couple of minutes, then back in, across to the ATM and out. We really wonder what is so interesting under the decking that they all visit, but for only a few minutes. We have still put food and water out in the usual places, just in case we do get a hungry visitor.

Indy is still in residence at the front, tucking in to his mealworms. We tried him with a little digestive biscuit last night. He had a little, but he still prefers mealworms.

He was a little wary when he first came out, giving the air a good sniff. It soon becomes apparent what he was sniffing - a cat. Last night, he beat a hasty retreat when the cat came, but he stood his ground and carried on munching.

He was still with us today, still changing sides! We are becoming very attached to the little chap.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Indy gets a fright

Indy is still around - but last night he was the only hedgehog we saw. The visitor in the back didn't appear, so it looks like he, too, has gone into hibernation.

Indy is still up and about, but he's not been eating so much the last couple of nights. He wasn't away for very long, either, compared to the previous night, so maybe he is thinking of hibernating with us.

He is still using both halves of the nest box. If anything we think he prefers the left-hand one, which is on the house side, and so may be a little warmer, but he still uses the right-hand one quite a lot.

He had a bit of a shock tonight, as he was tucking in to his mealworms, when a cat appeared, and he dashed for cover. He was in for quite a while before he reappeared, but at least he'd had quite a good feed. We love the way his nose goes up and he sniffs when the cat arrives.

Hanging in there...

Surprisingly, we still had two hedgehogs last night. The regular visitor actually showed up again and put in 3 appearences no less. His first visit was very brief - up the alley and in through the ATM, with a brief stop at the lawn feeder for a quick snack and a drink before heading out under the decking. His second visit was unfortunately cut short by me opening the back door. Part way through in the following video compilation of his visits, you can see him prickle up, probably at the first sound of the key in the lock. He then curls up completely, before making a hasty exit. Sorry! His third visit was also incredibly brief - he dashes in under the decking and out again via the ATM in three minutes flat.

Indy is still there, but checking the videos he was away for nearly five hours during the night. We were hoping he'd decided to hibernate in 9f, but we wonder if he's found somewhere more suitable, and is perhaps building himself a hibernaculum. Either way, I don't think we'll be seeing him much longer. This is all we saw of him, at 3x normal speed.

We'll still be looking out for autumn juveniles. Last autumn, although we didn't have anything like as many hedgehogs as we did this year, they had stopped visiting. Nightshift was hibernating in 9b, and we thought that was it. Then, a couple of weeks after the last sighting, we saw Twosie in the alley, in daylight. We don't know where he'd been hiding - perhaps he'd tried hibernating.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Still two... just

The last hedgehog sighting of the year can only be a few days away now. We still saw two hedgies, but for greatly reduced time.

A visitor still arrived,

but didn't go down to the lawn feeder for a snack, instead going straight out under the decking.

So that leaves us with Indy. He's still up, but even he was less active. He only appeared four times, half the number of the previous night. Although he did leave the area, it was only for a few minutes, probably for the loo. Not only that, he only ate about half the food on the bowl, whereas that last few nights he's completely cleared it.

It was very wet, so that may have affected him, but we think he's just getting ready to hibernate. Wonder if we'll see him tonight?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

And then there were two...

We didn't see Alfie last night, so it looks like he, too, has decided to hibernate. He seemed very small for a long time, but the last week or two he put on a spurt and seemed quite chubby, so we hope he makes it. Good luck, little chap.

That leaves us with two hedgehogs. The regular visitor was back, more or less as usual. He spent five minutes eating outside the ATM.

He then went out under the decking a few minutes later:

He was back on the lawn feeder for a few minutes later in the evening:

The othe hedgehog we see is Indy at the front. He is still very active. He was in and out of 9f seven or eight times during the night, having a quick snack and then back to bed, with the odd longer excursion. At four am, he still hadn't made much of an impression on the food bowl, but when I got up at 5:45 it was empty! I refilled it, and he did come out for another snack before bed.

Indy does seem to be getting quite large, but he doesn't seem happy with his weight yet, so we may see him for a day or two yet.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

An unexpected visit

I'm back working on the customer site this week, so I'm early to bed, early to rise, and that's why I'm writing last night's blog this morning.

Yesterday morning, just as I got up, I was surprised to see a hedgehog in the alley, munching away.

Unfortunately, he just turned around and went away again, instead of coming into the garden. We aren't sure who it was, but have a suspicion it may have been Indy.

Indy stayed in 9f all day. He came out several times and still has a good appetite:

We were rather worried when we checked in the morning, since a brief scan back through the video had showed no sign of him. A full check showed that he left just before 3 am and didn't come back until 6:15, so it could well have been him in the alley:

Finally, Alfie, or at least we think it's Alfie.

The first sighting of him was coming in under the decking. He then went out under the decking on two occasions, for a couple of minutes each time, before nipping out through the ATM for ten minutes. We really don't know what he does, but we sometimes get the feeling he's looking for someone, as we've seen him go round each nest box in turn.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Alfie pays a visit

We still had three hedgehogs with us again last night.

Indy was still in residence, and is still eating well - he again almost finished the full bowl of mealies on his own. He's not going very far afield, but it seems he doesn't feel big enough to hibernate yet, even though we assume most of his family and friends are already hibernating.

Keep on munching!

The regular early visitor was back again, eating on the ATM and the lawn feeder, and like Indy he was still eating well.

Alfie was the big surprise. As we haven't had so much activity, I must admit I wasn't watching the cameras quite as closely as in the past, and the first I saw of him he was on the patio, having a drink outside 9d. He kept disappearing - Alfie has this habit of wandering off - but he reappeared, and climbed into 9c, settled down and had a nap for an hour.

Then he got up and was eating and drinking outside for a full quarter of an hour. Here he is, speeded up four times. He's still eating well.

No sign of anyone else.

Now we are three

The hedgehogs must be settling down to hibernate, as their visits are getting very infrequent. I'm running late with the blog, so this is for Friday night/Saturday morning, but we only had three visitors.

The first was at the ATM.

This is one of the regular visitors, usually the first of the evening. He is probably living in one of the gardens further up the alley, but he never comes very far into the garden, just going down to the lawn feeder and water and then going out again.

Indy is now our sole resident, out in 9f at the front. He doesn't seem to be straying very far now. He just comes out to the bowl, has a quick snack and goes back to bed for an hour or so. He does occasionally exit left, heading for a drink, but he's only away for a few minutes.

Although he doesn't eat much at a sitting, he's still eating a fair amount of food - by 5:30 am he was licking the bowl clean, and he was the only visitor. He can't have been too hungry, as he just went to bed for the day after this, rather than wandering across to the other feeder.

And finally, there's little Alfie. He's still coming, although only for one visit, but he has a huge meal, eating and drinking on the lawn feeder for about 35 minutes non-stop. The he popped out under the decking. He normally disappears there for a couple of minutes before coming back into the garden, but this time it was only for a few seconds, and he didn't even go fully out of shot. We really wonder what he is up to.

So, that's all. Left's hope Nightshift, Flatmat, 9d and friends are all tucked up safely somewhere safe and sound.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Home Alone II

Where have all the hedgehogs gone? We had another very quiet night last night.

The only visitor to stay during the day was again little Indy in 9f at the front. He spent the day in 9f (left) as we can see from this video of him emerging for his first meal of the night. We'd put some extra straw in the entrance in case he felt cold, and he gives it a good sniffing.

From this compilation of his appearances over the next couple of hours he can be seen using both 9f (left) and 9f (right), sometimes just transferring from one to the other. We are amazed at how quickly he worked out he had two nest boxes to choose from, and how he still seems to like using both.

We had a couple more "transients" and only Alfie of the regulars showed up. He came into the garden via the alley and the ATM and went into 9b for a snooze.

An hour or so later he got up, but changed his mind and went back for another nap.

Another hour later he got up, had a snack and went into 9c for another nap:

And another hour later he got up, had a longer meal

and then went up for a snack by 9a, before leaving the garden.

We had a couple of visits to the lawn feeder later on, one of whom was Alfie, and that was all. It looks as if the hedgehogs have started hibernating already - this seems to be earlier than last year, but we'll have to look back to see when it was. We're surprised that they have all moved out of the patio, since Nightshift was hibernating in 9b last year for about a month up to the cold snap we had in early December. She got up in the middle of the night on 10th December. We do hope they have all put on enough weight to get them through the winter, and that they have managed to find enough suitable nesting sites - we think there were at least 8 hedgehogs visiting the garden, so that must put nesting sites at a premium.

If we see any hedgehogs over the weekend we may try and weigh them to see how they are doing, just to make sure they are in with a good chance.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Home Alone

After last night's five empty nest boxes, we were relieved to see little Indy return to 9f during the evening. He sniffed the mealies and went to bed, but he was up and about during the night, and quite a lot of mealies had been scoffed went I went out this morning. And the great news is that Indy has been in 9f all day.

Alfie came into the garden in the early hours. Here he is arriving via the alley. He had quite a long snack on the lawn feeder and generally scouted around the lawn, but he never went down onto the patio.

He did his usual brief excursion under the decking.

Returning five minutes later. We really don't know where he goes under the decking, but many nights he, and a number of the other hedgehogs, go out under the decking for a few minutes and come back the same way. We'll have to try a camera looking under the decking sometime, to see what they get up to.

Alfie and another hedgehog had a brief scrap on the lawn feeder. We think the one who stays is Alfie, but they are quite similarly marked. He does stay munching and drinking here for almost twenty minutes.

And finally, a brief visit on the patio from Fussy - "No, I still don't like mealworms"

So, no sign of Nightshift for yet another night, only a couple of visitors, no sign of Flatmate or 9d. Where have they all gone? Has someone built a luxury hedgehog apartment block in the area? Wherever you are, hedgies, we hope you are all right.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Empty Nest Syndrome

Yes, we're sad to report that for the first time in ages we had no daytime residents in any of the five nest boxes. We really don't know what's happened to all the hedgehogs. We only had a couple of visits yesterday evening, and one during the night.

Not-so-little Alfie (he seems to be getting quite chubby now) spent yesterday in 9b, but at getting-up time he transferred into 9c. He stayed there (apart from his munching excursions) until the early hours, then left the garden. We think he made a brief appearance at the front, even going into 9f for a short break, but then he left and didn't return. Here he is going into 9c during the early part of the evening:

Here he is settling down for a nap in 9c:

No sign at all of Nightshift. We really are getting rather worried, not only about her but all of the other hedgehogs. Something in the weather must have disturbed them - the number of hedgehogs in the area can't all have met with accidents, so unless they've been hog-napped they must be somewhere, hopefully safe.

A number of the other hedgehog blogs we follow are also reporting reduced activity and missing hedgehogs, so it must be something they all get up to.

Even little Indy at the front has gone AWOL. He had a bit of a shock with a visiting cat. We don't recognise the cat - it's not one of the many in the area.

Here's the last video of him from this morning before he departed for his awayday. This is his first night away since he moved in a fortnight ago. Come back safe, little chap.

A few hungry hedgehogs

Things have really quietened down now with the hedgehogs. It was the coldest night yet - down to 4.7 degrees C - and there was very little activity.

Only Alfie at the back and Indy at the front had stayed the day, with no sign at all of Nightshift. Nightshift was living in 9b this time last year so we don't think it's just the temperature keeping her away. We hope she's all right.

Alfie had been taking advantage of her absence, spending some time in 9b the day in 9c. He seems to be developing quite an appetite now.

The previous night, the lawn feeder was virtually untouched, whereas the night before it had been emptied. Well, it was nearly emptied this time - in forty minutes. We're not sure how many hedgehogs were involved, but we think the first one at least was Alfie. Here's a clip, speeded up ten times - the whole video was 45 minutes in real time.

Indy is still living in 9f. He really does seem quite timid.

Car lights and people walking past give him quite a fright - and he runs for cover, rather than curling up in a ball, so I think he should be in good shape for surviving modern dangers.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Please, Sir, I want some more...

Things are still very quiet, hedgehog-wise. Nightshift was AWOL again - out all day, not a sign of her overnight, and still missing this morning. At first sight, we thought she had returned, but although the hedgehog in 9c is quite heavily marked, it's much smaller than Nightshift, and we're certain it's little Alfie, although "little" doesn't seem to apply so much. The chappie seems to be getting larger, which is something of a relief with the impending winter, and tonight's weather forecast of 4 degrees C.

Alfie was asleep in 9c, when 9d decided to join him. There was no sign of a rumpus inside the nest box, so it looks like Alfie may have slept through it all, but as this (cut) clip shows, 9d came out of 9c, had a snack and then went into 9d. A few minutes later Alfie came out of 9c, had a snack and went back in.

Later on, 9d was happily munching when Alfie got up. Poor 9d flipped into defensive mode, although he had to wait while Alfie had a "toothpaste moment" in preparation for his exertions. Poor 9d wandered off and chose to stay away today.

Following the previous night's level of scoffing on the lawn feeder, we put extra mealies in - only to find that we'd only had one visitor and the bowl was almost full. While the hedgehogs are away, the starlings have returned and they soon made short work of the mealies in the bowl. This is not a speeded up video!

Indy is still up to his usual tricks at the front, changing nest boxes every hour or so. Although we had plenty of mealworms left at the back, poor Indy was left to look under the saucer for more - and this was after we'd topped up the bowl before we went to bed. To be fair, there were still mealworms left in the bowl by the front door, but maybe that's a little too far away when he's ready for bed. We will get some more of the deep hedgehog bowls - they hold more and they are very stable and don't tip up when the hedgehogs stand on them.

So, we are still hoping Nightshift is all right and we haven't had a similar event to that reported tonight in Snufflehog's Hog Blog. We are becoming more convinced that she's in her nursery nest.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

All Quiet on the Hedgehog Front

Last night was the quietest we've had, hedgehog-wise, for quite some time. We only had three visitors into the garden, besides our regular residents, and even they deserted us.

Flatmate didn't show up at all, and he'd only spent an hour in 9a the previous night.

Alfie was in 9b for a lot of the evening, taking life very easy as usual - he doesn't even have to come all the way out of the nest box to feed, although if he wants a drink he does have to exert himself a little. We love the way he just flops down in the tunnel - just like Nightshift.

He went out of the garden later, and although we did see him in the garden again in the early hours, he didn't return to 9b.

Nightshift had spent the day in 9c, but went out quite early. We thought she had returned about 4:00 am, as we saw a heavily marked hedgehog going into 9c on the video, and we had someone in 9c during the day:

When the hedgie finally emerged from 9c this evening it wasn't Nightshift. It was quite a bit smaller. We wonder if it could be Alfie, but it doesn't quite look like Alfie, either!

9d had an awayday as well, so it was very quiet.

Even though it was very quiet, the visitors still managed to empty the mealworm bowl on the lawn. This bowl is completely empty most mornings, so yesterday we moved one of the cameras to cover it, and it was well worth it.

There were only three visitors into the garden, but there was plenty of action:

These are two clips from the same piece of activity. Now I've had time more playing with the video editing software, I've been able to include the whole sequence, speeded up four times. This video covers about 30 minutes.

By the time they'd finished the bowl was completely empty, so we are making sure we put plenty in tonight. At least we've confirmed it is the hedgehogs who are eating everything. If the bowl was emptied with only a few visitors, we realise it must have been empty very early on the evening when we had the normal complement of visitors. At least they had alternative locations in the garden to choose from.

Meanwhile, back at the front... Indy is still using both nest boxes - he alternates between them, and he seems quite happy there.

He also changes from one box to the other, without even coming out of the boiler room. Here, he stops for a rest half way.

So, we don't know where any of the regulars are, and even the visitors stayed away - looks like the hedgehogs were having a big party somewhere else last night...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Who's been sleeping in my bed?

...and he's still there!

Two days ago we had 13mm of rain, and the hedgehogs changed their behaviour. As noted in previous posts, Nightshift was very late getting up, and then stayed away the following day. She didn't visit at all during the next night, and so she was missing all day yesterday.

9d responded to her absence by moving in to 9c, her home.

He's been there for a nap on a number of occasions when Nightshift was out, and did get trampled by her a while ago because he was laying down in the tunnel and wouldn't move. Last night, the inevitable finally happened - Nightshift came home to find 9d asleep in her bed.

She went into the bedroom to find him well tucked up in the corner. She tried pushing him out, but he was too far in for her to be able to move him. Unfortunately, we have no sound connected up in the nest boxes, so we crept out and listened and you could just hear a bit of huffing. The pair of them eventually settled down to sleep for a while.

A bit later 9d seems to have taken the hint, as he got up and went back into his own nest.

Nightshift went out later, visiting Indy at the front, even taking a nap in 9f. Nightshift also worked out there are two nest boxes there. Notice how she is too big to sneak under the narrow part of the opening like Indy does.

She did come home and has spent the day in 9c - alone... Except for another brief visit from 9d when he came home! This is a shot from the latest cam - an eBay special, plugged into the DVD recorder. The lack of a timestamp makes finding things difficult.

Alfie spent the evening in and out of 9b and then went out exploring as usual. He was back home in 9b about . He doesn't seem to have been visiting Flatmate in 9a - possibly because Flatmate hasn't been staying in 9a for the last two nights, either. He called back for about an hour in the middle of the night, but dashed off again. A couple of nights ago, the night after Alfie had an awayday in 9f, Alfie had been dashing all over the garden, in and out of the ATM, into 9a, out under the decking, as if he was looking for someone - maybe they've missed each other?

We haven't been getting as many of the "transients" - the hedgehogs who visit, but don't live here - for the last few nights. We were getting two on the ATM together several times each night, but that hasn't happened since the rain. It may be that they are spreading out in search of winter quarters. We will see.

We decided to reposition a couple of the cameras today. When we bought the first cameras we didn't really know what to look for or expect from a camera, and found that the cameras we had bought did not really have enough infra-red range to give a general view of the garden or even the patio. As it turned out, we think we get better results using the cameras for close-up shots, although some of them could do with focusing a little closer than they are. At least they don't burn out the pictures as much as some of the longer-range IR cameras.

The only problem is that close-up cameras only show a small part of the action, and so the number of cameras we have in use has grown somewhat, to the extent that really we don't have the time to check all the video captures! Since the hedgies first appeared after hibernation in April, their habits have changed, and some of the cameras were no longer getting much of the action. On top of that, the bird box we had great hopes for in the spring has only managed to capture a visiting Bumble Bee, a couple of beetles - and a starling using the box as a toilet. Of course, one of the other camera-less bird boxes we set up was taken over by a pair of robins, resulting in the panicked installation of an external camera to cover the entrance. At least the robins successfully raised and fledged six babies, much to our great pleasure and relief.

We have a water bowl and a feeding bowl side by side on the lawn, a couple of yards/metres in front of the ATM. We have no camera coverage, and since the self-set sunflowers have grown we can't even see them from the living room! All we know is that virtually every morning all the water and all of the mealworms have gone. We can't imagine the hedgehogs drinking all of the water, and assume it's the cats - but cats don't like mealworms! So, we have a camera watching...

We have also turned the "Water Feeder" camera round to watch the sunflower clump. Nightshift used to visit this food bowl near the water regularly, but hasn't visited for ages, and on the other hand the long grass round the sunflowers has several distinct tunnels through it, and there is usually at least one fresh poo left there each day.

Catching Up

We both had busy days yesterday (Friday) and didn't have time to check through the videos from Thursday night, but we are trying to keep a diary of the activity of the various hedgehogs who visit us, so here's a late summary of the (in)activity for Thursday night/Friday morning.

After a long dry spell (we only had 1mm of rain in the whole of September) this week turned cold and wet. The weather really does seem to affect the hedgehogs' behaviour, and we have been having trouble sorting out what has been happening.

Nightshift got up much later than usual the previous night, left the garden and didn't come back. This would have caused us major concern a while ago, but since this has happened several times recently, we were not so worried - except that we didn't see any sign of her at all this evening and so she is having a second awayday.

The last time she was away for more than one night was when we think she had given birth, and it was several weeks before she returned to the garden full-time. Whilst we would love her to produce another litter, this is very late in the year and the little ones would not have time to grow large enough to survive hibernation, so we hope this is not the case.

Alfie returned to 9b and spent the day there, although he has taken to visiting Indy at the front, and even has a nap in one of the two nest boxes there. We have always found Alfie easy to identify, due to the huge number of marks he has on his back, as well as his behaviour, but we now find it difficult to distinguish between him and Indy. Indy was almost unmarked when he moved into 9f, but he looks very different now. Some of it must be due to the way he goes into the boiler room under the narrowest part of the door opening he can fit through.

We saw Flatmate leave 9a very early and scoot out of the garden, and he didn't return, either. We really need to add some extra protection around 9a, as it has very thin walls and must be much colder than the other nest boxes. 9d stayed with us, but took advantage of Nightshift's absence to move into 9c. We don't know if he just forgets where he lives, or he really prefers 9c, but he has had a number of naps in there.

We did see him go into 9b a couple of nights ago, sniff around the inside of the tunnel, turn round and come out again, as if he'd realised he was in the wrong box.

It looked as if even Indy was having an awayday, as he hadn't returned to either of the nests in 9f, but he finally crept in to 9f (left) just before 7am. He came from behind the tomato plants, so he may have been for a drink and a nibble on the other feeder in front of the front door, but he'd been missing for a couple of hours. He seems to have a really good appetite, and we are topping up the mealworms before we go to bed as he seems to make his mark on them.

So, that brings us up to last night. It's warmed up and was much drier, so let's see what our little friends get up to next.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Hedgehogs are so unpredicatable

Our prickly little friends are always doing something we didn't expect. We're sure they do it deliberately, just to confuse us. For the last few nights, things seemed to have settled down, with the regular hedgehogs in the usual nest boxes, with just little Indy at the front unable to choose between the left-hand or right-hand nest box at the front in 9f. Perhaps it's the change in the weather, with all the rain and it becoming colder, but we are the the stage now where we just aren't sure what is happening.

Nightshift was very late getting up - after 10:30 pm - and when she left the garden she didn't come back, so she's having an away-day.

On the other hand, little Indy in 9f was up rather early - just before 6:30 pm and was already out eating when I arrived home. The car headlights startled it and it scooted back under the door into one the nest boxes in 9f.

What confused us this morning was that 9c was occupied - apparently by 9d. We saw 9d return home to 9d, then when he got up for something to eat, he went into 9c for a few minutes before going back to 9d. After another little snooze, he got up for another munch and decided he wanted to stay in 9c for the day.

He is a bit odd, 9d. We don't know if his sat nav is faulty, but he has a habit of going into the wrong nest box. We have seen him in the past go into both 9b and 9c for a few minutes and then come out and go into 9d. He also tends to arrive home at a trot and either overshoot or undershoot his own box.

Alfie was also AWOL from 9b - but we then got a surprise and two hedgies popped out of the semi-detached nestboxes in 9f at the front.

Even the amount of food eaten is varying. Sometimes we find the bowl in 9e (the feeding station) is nearly empty, due to episodes like this:

and other nights it seems it has hardly been touched.

We just hope they know what is best for themselves and that they make sure they get enough to eat. They are probably testing out all the different nesting sites, to find the best one they can.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Alfie has a strop

We had quite a surprise at the behaviour of cute little Alfie. He was tucking in to some mealworms outside the ATM, when along comes another little hedgehog, minding his own business - and Alfie set about pushing the poor little chap. Not just a little push, either, he really had a go.

We've seen Alfie get picked on by other hedgehogs, and he usually stands his ground, but this time he definitely started it, and the other hedgie got pushed all over the place. At least Alfie seems to be healthy and strong.

It seemed much quieter than of late - we didn't seem to have the usual rush of visitors first thing, nor did we have the flurry of activity later on. We had the usual full house, but they didn't seem to be in such a hurry to go out. It is turning cooler and we had some rain, so it does seem to be changing their behaviour.

Little Indy seems "settled" in the front, if swapping nests every hour can be called settled. Here's a little compilation of his activity:

He seems to be getting lots of marks on his back. We put most of them down to the way he likes to squeeze under the narrowest part of the door opening.

As you may have noticed from the timing of blog postings, I have also had a change of routine. I'm working on a customer site this week, which means early to bed and early to rise - I leave home about 6:30, which puts me in direct conflict with little Indy. We carefully scrutinise the camera to see if the coast is clear, then I gingerly open the front door and creep out.

One morning he came out of the nest between me leaving the house and starting the car, so the headlights startled him and he ran for cover - so it seems to be true what they say about hedgehogs running instead of curling up.

So, we've swapped the cars round, and I park mine on the road instead of the drive, so the lights don't disturb him. The last night I got a call on my mobile (hands free, of course) just before I arrived home, with a hedgie warning. It was only about 6:30 but he was out already. I must be careful tonight.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Indy settles in

Indy the Indecisive Hedgehog has made one decision - he's moving in to the new nest box in 9f. He just can't decide whether to use the left or right side, so he seems to alternate.

Here he is just emerging from his first day in his new home:

He likes squeezing under the narrowest part of the door opening instead of going through the wide bit.

Although he has taken up residence, he isn't always taking the easy option by nipping out for a snack of mealies. He did have several expeditions of three quarters of an hour or so, heading off in different directions, so he is using this as a base, but should still be getting a little exercise and hopefully finding some natural food.

Meanwhile, in the back garden, we had a full house again. Alfie is now back in 9b, so he just wanted to see his old friend Flatmate.

Nightshift seems to be dining outside 9a as much as anywhere, so Indy hasn't met her at the front, yet.

She likes a lie in, and rarely gets up before 9pm, even though she is awake, whereas Alfie is out around 7pm, followed soon after by 9d.

Nightshift and 9d came back together, and poor little 9d got bullied by Nightshift again, although he did get a bit of peace after she went to bed.

9d popped out for another quick snack a little later, and went into the wrong nest box afterwards. Nightshift didn't stir, fortunately, and he went back into 9d afterwards.

9d always seems to return home in a tearing hurry and quite often overshoots the nest box. We don't know if that's what happened this time, or if he's just a bit nosey. We did see him in 9b for a few minutes, in Alfie's favourite position - back legs in the nest box, snout in the mealworms.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I used to be indecisive...

...but now I'm not so sure. Meet our newest lodger, Indy, the Indecisive Hedgehog. Perhaps that's unfair - maybe he's just spoilt for choice. On Sunday we put the new hedgehog house into the boiler room about 5:30 pm. About 7:30, we had a visitor. We aren't sure we've even seen this chap before, and he was very early - normally we don't see a hedgehog at the front until after 9 pm, and quite often it's after midnight. We hadn't started the recorder when he arrived, so this clip starts with him in the frame.

What was amazing was that he almost immediately went into the boiler room, and eventually turned right, going into the right-hand of the two semi-detached houses. A little later he came out of 9f right - and went into 9f left. He was doing this all night, just popping out for a bite to eat and a drink (the water is off to the left - we repositioned the camera).

He stayed all night, and all day yesterday, so he seems to like it.

We had another full house in 9a, 9b, 9c and 9d. It seems Alfie had just been visiting his friend Flatmate in 9a, because he was back on his own in 9b.

We did have another "lighthouse" experience on the lawn, but this developed nicely:

Although the cat was after the mouse, it does show the need for the long tunnels in the nest boxes - poor little Flatmate had walked past the cat and gone into 9a only about ten minutes before this happened.

The hedgehogs seemed to be visiting more normally after the previous quiet night. A couple behaving reasonably well in the alley:

And here's the now obligatory shot of little Alfie, this time flaking out in the tunnel of 9b after a tiring mealworm eating session:

and here's Alfie leaving 9a with Flatmate:

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Alfie gets homesick

We had some rain yesterday evening. Not a lot - less than 1mm - but enough to make the ground wet, and perhaps enough to change the hedgehogs' behaviour.

Alfie was up first in 9b - and went back up to see Flatmate in 9a for a couple of hours, then they came out together and went their separate ways:

Here's Alfie leaving for his night on the tiles:

But they met up back in 9a this morning - Alfie spent the day in 9a.

I've said in the past that Nightshift doesn't like the rain, and this seemed to confirm it. She was up quite late, and she was sniffing the air a lot before she came out. When she did come out, she was only out for a few minutes, and confined herself to the food bowls. We have a plastic canopy hanging over the front of 9c/9d to keep the food dry, and she seems to restrict herself to this area. The interesting thing is that she ate some of the peanuts we put out on the extra middle bowl.

She came out a couple of time for a few minutes, and when she went back into the nest she really snuggled herself down in the straw.

Later on, she was pawing the newspaper lining the sides of the tunnel before she came out. Only after the rain had stopped did she leave the nest - and she didn't come back! She stayed away all day.

Not only did Nightshift have an awayday, but 9d did as well. So for the first time in weeks we had no hedgehogs on the patio during the day. The other visiting hedgehogs weren't as frequent visitors during the night, and there were only two visits at the front, one of which was Alfie. Perhaps the tiny amount of rain was enough to bring out their natural food and they were making the most of it.

The peanuts seemed to be liked, so we put some on more of the feeders. Some had been taken, so we will see how things go. We are getting very low on mealies, so I ordered another 10kg tonight... gulp £££.

As I desperately need to get rid of some of the video captures to free up some disk space, I started looking through the videos, using VLC player and just jumping through the video, looking for changes. This is where the straw comes in useful, as the hedgies can't move through the straw without disturbing it. If a four hour video clip has the straw in the same place at the beginning and the end, the whole clip can be dumped without watching. What this process showed is that Flatmate is in the habit of popping out of 9a for a few minutes during the day. He just nips round the side of the tunnel, so it looks like he is spending a penny.

We built another hedgehog house today - yes, another. This is to go in 9f, and is a semi. The boiler room is quite small, but due to its brick construction, we thought it would be reasonably secure and comparatively warm, so we are using the door to provide one wall of the access tunnel, so most of the space in the box can be living accommodation. It's still smaller that 9b/9c/9d, but of similar size to 9a, which is housing two hedgehogs, so we hope it will be comfortable. It will be interesting to see what the visitors make of the change. The hedgehogs seem quite inquisitive and prepared to investigate, so hopefully the new box structure won't put them off compared to the open-plan straw mattress they were using until last night.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Another full house

We had another full house when we got up this morning - Flatmate is settled on his own in 9a, Alfie seems to have "gone it alone" in 9b, Nightshift in 9c as usual, and 9d in 9d.

9d and Alfie got up at almost exactly the same time, but they just ate outside their own nest box, so didn't meet. Here's 9d

and here's Alfie emerging after his first day in 9b:

Sorry, but we think Alfie is so cute, here he is 45 minutes later after another snooze:

There was a bit of pushing and shoving in the alley. You can't see on the alley cam why they didn't go in, but from the ATM you can see there was another hedgehog there.

It was quiet at the front, with only two sightings on the camera, although the other feeder did take a hammering, and some of the hedgehog food went as well as the mealworms. This is the hedgehog we've christened Fussy, the one who doesn't like mealworms. We've put some peanuts and hedgehog food on this feeder for him tonight.

Alfie was the only other visitor, and he does like mealworms. He does take a short break in the boiler room, but only for a minute or so.

Later on, in the back garden, Alfie and 9d met in 9e, and they seemed to be getting on rather well:

When 9d left, he went for a drink before going to bed.

We have decided to try some peanuts in the extra feeder between 9c and 9d tonight, so we'll see if they get any interest. A few of the hedgehog food pieces have been taken, so we'll persevere.

The hedgehogs do seem to be growing. Alfie still seems very small, but even he is growing. 9d looks quite large now, assuming it is him and not 9d2. We've seen a number of ticks appearing, although not more than one per hedgehog, yet. We still feel we should keep their human contact to a minimum, but we want to make sure they are all right, so we are considering doing a few checks, particularly of Alfie, to make sure they are in with the best chance for winter.

The other visitors also seem to be larger - no more of the tiny Tinas. We don't really know how many there are, but we think there must be at least three unnamed ones. We wonder if we should have a census.

It really felt like Autumn this morning when I got up. It was very windy overnight, and the road and garden were covered in leaves. It will be interesting to see if the hedgehogs start to take advantage of all the leaves and start bringing them into the nest boxes.