Monday, 22 November 2010

It's not all over...

It's been rather a long time since we updated the blog - 21st June. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it's been rather a busy period at work, and we haven't had the time to keep up with the blog, although we haven't been neglecting the hedgehogs (or the birds) visiting the garden. Things have quietened down a little, so we have been trying to catch up.

We had a busy year with the hedgies, having had two separate batches of four babies, but unlike last year none of them chose to move in to any of the nest boxes. Our record was nine hedgehogs in the garden at the same time - five adults and four babies. We also managed six hedgehogs in residence for a few nights.

Nightshift moved out when she was pregnant, and didn't move back in, and unfortunately we haven't seen her at all since August, so we fear the worst. Lovely Indy also moved out from 9f, apparently pregnant, and we haven't seen her since then, either.

For a long time we only had one resident, "little" Alfie in 9b, although he was rather portly by the time he moved out in September.

Our hedgehogs disappeared very early this year - all but two had disappeared by mid-September. We hope they had simply decided to hibernate early, and that nothing more serious has happened to them. One hedgie was hanging around for another couple of weeks, and the last one disappeared on 18th October. He was busy eating, all the time, so we do believe that he just didn't feel ready to hibernate - all the others had seemed to be well fed.

We did have a rather sad moment - a small hedgehog appeared at the front at the end of August and moved in to 9f. He was a lovely little chap, and seemed to be doing well, going out exploring several times a night, and returning to 9f. He occasionally nipped out during the day to have a snack from the mealie bowl by his front door, before going back to bed.

We christened him Sunshine. Unfortunately, he then went out exploring a few times during the day, and although he appeared to be well he went downhill rapidly. We took him in, and tried to care for him, but the poor little chap didn't make it.

We have been without hedgehogs since 18th October, and thought that was it until next spring. We were away on holiday last week, and hadn't bothered to log in to check the cameras for "action". We were rather surprised when we came home to find the mealie bowl by 9f was completely empty - it was full when we left! We thought it must have been one of the local cats, which has developed a liking for mealies.

Just to be certain, we checked - and found we'd had a hedgie visiting since 17th November, several times a night. The mealie bowl in 9e at the back was also nearly empty, so it seemed that the hedgie was visiting the back as well.

We filled the bowls up last night, and waited - and the little chap arrived at the front about 21:30. We dashed out and made a grab for him, to check him over.

He was in good condition, with no ticks. He was also a nice, round, shape, which indicates that he hasn't lost much weight. We weighed him - 500g. Not as much as recommended for hibernating, but not too bad, so we decided we would leave him free, as we feel he would rather be roaming than cooped up in a box. We can make sure there is plenty of food for him, so hopefully he will put on more weight. We're a little concerned as we've seen the weather forecast is saying we may have snow later in the week, but at the moment we'll keep an eye on him.

We put a blob of emulsion on his back so we can identify him, and make sure we don't have two (or more) hedgehogs about.

We don't know where he came from. We wonder if he was hibernating and has woken up, since there definitely haven't been any hedgehogs around for the last month. We don't think he was one of our regulars, as they were quite a bit heavier the last time we saw them, and they weren't visiting the front.

It shows that you do need to leave food and water around at all times. We hadn't left so much out, as we didn't expect very much to be eaten while we were away for the week, but we were lucky as he only emptied the bowl the night before we came back.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Location, Location, Location

No, we haven't moved home, nor have we moved the hedgehog nest boxes, but we've been moving the cameras to get a different view of things.

In the three weeks since the last blog, things have been going on as normal on the hedgie front. We still have two residents, Alfie in 9b on the patio, and Indy in 9f (left) in the boiler room at the front. Indy no longer seems to be indecisive - she (we still think Indy is a she... for the moment) is quite definitely living in 9f (left) and hasn't been into the right-hand nest for some weeks.

At the moment, with the longest day, it is getting dark about 10 pm. The hedgehogs normally venture as it is getting dark, but they do have a peep out a little earlier to see if it is dark enough. It seems that they start getting peckish and Indy may come out of her nest into the hall a couple of time before finally coming out. A couple of nights ago we decided to sit by the front door waiting for Indy to pop out, and got into position about 9 pm. Only a few minutes later there was a little "tap tap tap" - and another hedgehog appeared round the corner of the garage, its claws tapping on the concrete path. It was there for quite a while - then Indy came out and there was some "huffing" before the visitor moved off. It's quite amazing how the hedgehogs will walk past you within a few inches, as long as you remain still and quiet.

So, back to the new camera positions. We have retained the old ATM camera, looking through the hole in the fence, but we now have ATM2, mounted over the ATM, looking straight down. It shows the wooden steps leading down from the ATM, and shows that quite a lot can happen below the view of ATM1.

In this clip a hedgie comes in through the ATM and tucks into the mealworms, when a cat decides to leave via the ATM. The hedgie prickles slightly, but doesn't seem too bothered as the cat pushes past:

We have two more cameras on the patio, looking along the patio in opposite directions. These, combined with the camera on the steps leading down from the lawn to the patio, combine to show unusual hedgie behaviour. Unusual, but we have seen it before - the hedgehog seems to be looking for something. We think this one is Nightshift, who hasn't been in the nest boxes for many weeks. Starting all three clips together should give an idea of the whole event - she climbs down the steps, has a quick look in 9c, goes up to the doorway of 9b and then back up the steps. The surprising thing is that she seems to be quite determined in her mission - she is moving very quickly, without the usual meandering wander of the hedgehog.

Our other new cameras are in the alley, about 6 feet (2 metres) up the alley to the left of the ATM. This alley provides a thoroughfare for the hedgehogs, and links all of the gardens together. The alley stops half way along our garden at a gate leading to the garden with the decking. As this is not a through route, the alley is very overgrown by bushes, and the concrete path is covered in fallen leaves. It's ideal for the hedgehogs, as only they and the cats use it. We put a single camera at the new location a few weeks ago to try and see where the hedgehogs were going, but we found that a lot of the action was just out of camera shot. So, we came up with the new design - three cameras mounted together, looking left, across and right, giving an almost 180 degree view of the alley. We have had seen quite a lot of meetings, and this is one of the more exciting meetings. Again, starting all three clips together is quite nice.

Some hedgehogs are definitely more aggressive than others - the one here getting attacked seems to be particularly timid. A few nights ago we saw one poor hedgie (probably this one) get attacked five times in about ten minutes in the alley, by other passing hedgehogs. In the end the poor thing gave up trying to get into the garden and went back up the alley.

On another occasion we saw it waiting patiently outside the ATM for the hedgie on the ATM to move. Finally, after five minutes it gave up and went under the decking and came into the garden through that entrance.

We have had very little activity under the decking for the last few weeks. The same thing happened last year. We wonder if the other entrance to the decking has become blocked by growing plants.

We had another surprise early visitor -still in broad daylight. Unfortunately, not the sharpest of pictures as it is quite dark round the ATM and the shutter speed was quite slow, but quite a nice shot:

Moving to our feathered friends, most of the starlings are now self-sufficient. We heard a single chick calling for food yesterday, but that was the first for several days. This is good news, as the noise level has diminished, although it is replaced by the noise of them squabbling. We suspect we aren't too popular with the neighbours. The starlings seem to be using the garden as a nursery, with lots of youngsters and only one or two adults. We did count over sixty birds at one stage! Their aerobatics and formation flying are getting very well developed. Although we have lots of starlings we get the feeling that there are several flocks each visiting at different times, since there is one very distinctive bird, "Chalky", who has a completely white tail feather. We only see this bird at one time of the day.

There are quite a few blackbirds around, and we get a lovely song from one each evening as he perches on a nearby tree or on the neighbour's TV aerial. The blackbirds are very active at the front, too. We have a hanging feeder by the front door, which was attracting robins (sadly, they visit very rarely now) and has been attracting lots of bluetits recently. Possibly as a result of spilled food, the blackbirds started visiting. We saw them on the camera we placed to watch Indy, so we started putting out "Buggy Nibbles" (suet pellets with insects) for the blackbirds, and they have proved to be a real hits. We have seen three blackbirds queuing up on the lawn to feed. They will even take food while we are standing at the front door. They caught us unawares yesterday and had cleared the food early in the morning, and we were surprised to see a blackbird on the bluetit feeder!

Finally, a real treat - a woodpecker on the fat balls. Unfortunately, most of the time it was on the far side, but we did get one reasonable photo:

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Quiet nights...

Things seem to be getting quiet in the evenings, hedgehog-wise. The last few evenings have seen fewer visitors than in recent weeks - we were getting two visitors just before dark, one under the decking and one through the ATM, but they haven't been for several nights. The feeding station in 9e was almost continually occupied, but again for the last few nights there have only been one or two visits. We hope that this is a sign of plentiful natural food so the hedgehogs don't need our help so much. We just hope the little chaps are all doing well.

We still have Alfie in 9b, and we think Indy spent the day in 9f, but the hedgie who was staying in 9c for the last few days didn't return last night. I did have a surprise yesterday morning, though - just after half past nine, in broad daylight, I looked out of the back door, and there was a hedgehog drinking from the bowl outside 9c, for several minutes, before climbing back into 9c. We looked back through the videos and found it had been out for about 20 minutes - it just popped out, stayed behind 9d for a quarter of an hour, then had a snack and a long drink and back to bed:

It would seem it had nipped out for the loo. We have seen this in 9a, which is very well hidden under bushes, but not on the patio before. Strangely, about 10 minutes later Alfie got up in 9b and came to the entrance of the tunnel, before thinking better of it, turning round and having a poo just before he returned to the nest.

Two nights ago we did have some action on the ATM, with what seemed to be quite a violent pushing fit:

We were getting rather concerned about Indy's lack of exercise. (S)he (yes, on one clip we got the distinct feeling Indy is actually a little girl) as she just seemed to be squeezing out under the door to the mealies and then back into 9f, but of late she has been spending more time away:

So, we will just have to wait and see...

... and Noisy Days

Just as the nights are getting quieter, the days are getting louder. We have been feeding the birds for several years - in fact, it seems it was the bird food which attracted the hedgehogs.

We have a reasonable range of the standard birds - blue tits, robins, blackbirds, pied wagtails, wood pigeons, collared doves, and ... starlings.

It seems a lot of people (our neighbours included, no doubt) don't like starlings, as they are aggressive, messy, frighten off the other birds - and are VERY noisy. The noise is on the increase at the moment as the young birds have now fledged and are all around the garden screaming for food. Fortunately, many of them are already able to feed themselves, although that doesn't seem to count as they immediately squawk when they see an adult with food in its beak.

They have learned to enjoy a bath, though, and once one takes the plunge they all want to get in on the act. In the first clip you can see Chalky, one of the baby starlings with a white tail feather.

From the archives

Finally a couple of interesting clips from earlier in May, when we had a cold spell (down to 1 degree above freezing) - a hedgehog collecting nesting material. The hedgie made two trips under the decking within ten minutes, but we haven't seen it collecting any more since then:

Monday, 31 May 2010

Back to the blog...

The last weeks have been rather busy for us, and so we didn't have the time to update the blog. Don't worry, the hedgehogs haven't been neglected and they seem to be doing well, although we do have a number of changes to report. Things are getting back to normal with us, so we hope to be able to post more regularly, with news of our prickly visitors.

Our first news is about Nightshift. This is the third year she has been living in one of the nest boxes in our garden. She moved back into 9c when she came out of hibernation at the end of March, and has been there almost every day, until about a fortnight ago, when she seems to have moved out. We had a period of a few days when we were overbooked in the nest boxes. We saw 9a, 9b, 9c, 9d and 9f were all occupied for several days, and we were surprised to see in this capture that Nightshift had a visitor for a couple of days, although they didn't arrive or leave together:

We were surprised that for the same few days we also had two residents in 9b, one of whom we are sure was "little" Alfie from last year, due to the way in which he hangs out of the doorway eating mealworms.

We also had two hedgehogs staying in the semi detached nest boxes in the boiler room at the front, Indy in 9f (left) and another hedgie in 9f (right).

Since then things have quietened down somewhat. We still have Indy in 9f, and Alfie in 9b. 9a has been empty for most of the time since then, although we did have a visitor for two days when we had heavy rain in the evening.

Nightshift has moved out of the garden, and 9c was empty for quite a few days, although we do have a guest in 9c at the moment.

We are still getting lots of visitors each evening, and regularly have three or four hedgies in the garden at the same time, with associated bulldozer moments.

So, what has happened to Nightshift? We think she is still visiting, as there is one hedgehog who looks very like her, but we haven't been able to identify her for sure. We wonder if she has moved out to have hoglets, as this is what happened with her last year - she moved out at the time we were expecting her to give birth. We saw nothing of her for a week, then she started visiting more regularly, and then she moved back in bringing two babies with her. This was quite late last year, but we saw the hedgehogs getting amorous in April, so it is possible for her to have had a family. We will just have to wait and see, but we hope she is doing all right.

Well, the blog has been restarted, we just need to get back into the swing of updating it regularly. Watch this space...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Hedgehog Awareness Week

I must admit we missed the fact that 2nd  to 8th May 2010 is Hedgehog Awareness Week until we saw this cute little hedgehog article on the Daily Mail website, drawing attention to the matter. We had seen it mentioned on some of the hedgehog forums a while ago, but unfortunately it had slipped our minds, and doesn't seem to have been widely publicised anywhere else. So we're doing our little bit to pass on the message about our favourite mammals.

As usual, the visitors to our garden have been keeping us entertained and fascinated with their behaviour. At the moment, we appear to have five regular residents: an unnamed hedgehog in 9a, Alfie in 9b, Nightshift in 9c, Indy in 9f (left) and Indy's Friend in 9f (right). We don't seem to have had anyone in 9d for three or four nights.

We are getting lots of visits throughout the night, although it's impossible to tell how many different hedgehogs are visiting, or if it is just one or two visiting several times each night. They are certainly very hungry at the moment - the mealworms in the feeding station on the lawn (9e) have been going well, so last night I put two full bowls of mealworms in. It seemed there was a hedgehog in almost continuously all evening. This must have been a number of different hedgies, since if it was a single individual it would have exploded, as both bowls had been cleaned out this morning. And that is in addition to the bowl outside 9d being emptied, three other bowls and a large pile on the ATM all going.

I was up early this morning - I've been getting up at 5:30 to visit a customer for the last couple of months, and my body clock hasn't reset for the holiday - so I went downstairs to see if there was any activity. It was daylight already, so I wasn't expecting any activity, but then I suddenly saw a hedgie munching away in front of the tunnel in 9a. I assumed the chap had just popped out of 9a for a snack, but going back through the cameras showed that 9a had been tucked up in bed for 45 minutes, and this chap had just come in under the decking, had breakfast (or is it supper to a hedgehog) and gone out the same way. so, it seems the feeder is on its GPS list of favourites.

Last Thursday, 29th April, was rather a nasty night. It was cold and breezy and damp, and it was dark comparatively early. Nightshift was up and out as soon as it was dark, as usual. Unfortunately, it started raining about 9 pm, and we have seen in the past that Nightshift doesn't seem to like the rain. I was amazed to see her behave like this though:

The first part shows her climbing down the steps onto the patio and dashing across the patio - it's surprising just how long a hedgehog's legs really are, and how quickly they can move when they want to. The next, rather blown, clip shows her dashing past 9c - she seems to have slightly lost her bearings - but no worries, she soon gets back on course and climbs back into her nest in 9c. The next clip is the same action from a different camera. Finally, she goes into bed. She stayed here for about 30 minutes before venturing out again. It was still drizzling, so she had a quick snack at 9d and went back to bed.

Meanwhile, at the front, Indy had been out a couple of times for a snack just after dark:

When he came out of the nest again about 9 pm, it had started raining, and after much sniffing the air, he turned round and went back to bed. He did this a couple of times. Then, a little later, when the weather was a little better, he actually came out under the door - but decided it still wasn't right and went back to bed again.

We have seen Indy still sneaking into 9f (right) for a few minutes on most nights, although he is living in 9f (left).

Finally, we must not forget our feathered friends. We have been feeding the birds in the back garden for a couple of years now, but had never bothered at the front, until we noticed that robins and blackbirds were stealing the mealworms we'd put by the boiler room door for the hedgehogs. We have also hung a feeder up by the front door, with sunflower kernels, mealworms and "buggy nibbles" (suet pellets with insects). This attracts blue tits and robins.

After the camera got knocked over by one of the local cats, it was repositioned to give a view of the seedling tray we forgot to put away, but turned out to be a second drinking water supply for the hedgehogs - and a bath for the local robins:

We also put a bird box with camera in the lilac tree to the right of the boiler room door, and the robins have started building a nest there.They haven't been for the last couple of days, so we don't know if they have abandoned it, or if they are busy elsewhere. We hope they return.

Monday, 26 April 2010

More catching up... and lots more hedgehogs

Unfortunately, we're still rather busy and finding it difficult to keep up the blog, particularly getting videos, but the hedgehogs have been very busy in the last week.

Although it is still quite cold at night, the days are warmer and the hedgehogs are much more active, and their appetites have increased dramatically - or is it just that they didn't like the last batch of mealworms we bought? Some of the hedgies would eat them, but others took one sniff and walked away. We've now got a new batch from our regular supplier and they are very interested now. I must admit - even we didn't think the previous batch smelled very appetising.

So, to catch up... 9c now has a regular resident - Nightshift, although she did seem to spend one day in 9d, probably because someone else beat her to 9c. We have a regular resident in 9b as well, and we think it could be Alfie, back in his old home - last night the hedgie was doing Alfie's usual trick of eating with his front feet in the mealworms and his back feet in the tunnel.

9a and 9d have been a bit more variable - every night at least one of them has been occupied, but on one occasion there were two hedgies in 9a and on another two in 9d - maybe it's 9d and Flatmate from last year.

9f in the boiler room at the front has two residents. Indy is settled in 9f (left) and another chap is living in 9f (right). They occasionally meet in the hall or outside and have a little shoving match, but they do sometimes visit each others' nest and stay for a while which would seem to indicate that they get on quite well most of the time. Indy also sneaks a quick five minutes in 9f (right) when the other chap is out.

As I write this, Indy is just squeezing out under the door, and 9fr is already outside. They are having a bit of a push, but they're now eating happily together.

Last Friday night, 23rd April, was amazing. The hedgehogs were up and about quite early - it wasn't properly dark. We had two on the patio in front of 9d, one in 9e and three on the atm - all at the same time. Alfie was still in 9b and Indy and 9fr were also visible at the front, so that means there are at least nine hedgehogs in the area, and there must be more, since some of the visitors definitely aren't residents.

About 9:15 pm on Friday I went to close the back door as it was getting chilly, and I heard a lot of huffing. In fact, I heard two lots of huffing. Sure enough - one pair of courting hedgehogs on the patio, and another on the lawn. Of course, both pairs were out of camera shot.

The batteries in the night scope went, and when I came back the huffing had stopped. The pair on the lawn had gone, but the other female was on the patio. I looked for the male - he was on the mealworms in front of 9c, having a snack. He then dashed back to the female and carried on courting. I decided to see if I could rig up a camera on them, but when I came back the female was on her own again - the male was having a drink this time. The female got impatient and started off up the steps, but the male must have heard her, because he went dashing after her.

The hedgehogs seem to be getting hungry, as a few nights ago 9d popped out for a snack about 8:00 pm - a good 30 minutes before they would normally come out. He was eating for a few minutes, then went back to bed. I managed to get a few natural-light shots, although they are a bit blurred as it was getting a bit dark.

9fr snook in at 8 the night before last, too - broad daylight. I carefully opened the front door to try and get a photo, but he heard me and slunk back to bed.

We also had a lovely shot of Indy last night - he was in 9f hall, heading for bed when he just flaked out - he was like this for 11 minutes before he got up and went to bed. I was quite worried - nearly went out to check he was ok.

Finally on the hedgies, here's the clip I mentioned in the last posting, where 9fr comes out - and when he goes, we see Indy's eyes gleaming in the dark as if he was watching.

On to other wildlife - we also love watching the birds, and put up several bird boxes last year, including one with a camera. We were lucky to have a pair of robins in one of the boxes, naturally not the one with the camera. They successfully fledged all six chicks.

This year we moved the camera nest box to the site of the successful nest last year, and put another camera box up at the front. Not a sausage. And then yesterday a real surprise. A couple of visits from robins to the box at the front - then they started bringing nesting material. We were so excited. We've only seen a couple of visits today, so we hope they haven't given up. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Catching up...

Unfortunately, we have been rather busy this last week and a bit, which means that the blog has not been getting updated, and we haven't been doing as many captures as we would like. This is a pity, as the hedgehogs have been very active, and we would have liked to have noted more of the information for future reference, such as when the hedgies reappeared.

Of course, the biggest problem is identifying the individual hedgies, and although we are sure these must be the chaps from last year, we can't be absolutely certain.

One certainty is that Nightshift is back! This is her third year in the garden (that we know of) and we were very relieved to see her back. We missed her actual return, but we found a hedgehog in 9c on 7th April. We hadn't seen any more signs, until 9:25pm on 9th April - I was just looking at the hedgie monitors and a hedgehog got up and came out of 9c, and was definitely identified as Nightshift.

She has been living in 9c almost every day since then, although one day was spent in 9d. We suspect this was because she had come home to find 9c occupied! For 2 nights we had Zippy in the garden. This hedgehog was running all over the garden and in and out of the garden for several hours each night. I mean running - just a blur on the cameras. He ran into the decking camera and sent it flying. It was such strange behaviour - he seemed to be searching for something. He didn't pause to eat. I watched him out of the living room window trying to find his way down onto the patio. He looked so cute, peering over the edge of the wall. It was as if he knew he should be able to get down, but couldn't remember how. Eventually he found his way down the ramp - and then Zipped into 9c. He was only in for half an hour before Zipping out again. So, we don't know quite what was wrong and haven't seen the same activity since, so either Zippy has moved on or he has found what he was looking for and has settled down.

In the last blog we noted that we'd had a very dejected looking hedgie sniffing inside 9b as if he couldn't believe there was no bedding in. Well, we put the bedding in - and the hedgie moved in. He's been there most nights, so we think it may be Alfie. He's quite restless at night, getting up, looking out two or three times, before finally venturing forth.

9a seems to have a resident most days - he's just come out as I am writing this at 21:03. It seems that we are fully booked at the moment, with all four nest boxes in the back occupied.

Things have also been very entertaining in the boiler room at the front. Indy was hibernating in 9f (right) and when he woke up he dashed into 9f (left) and actually seems to have made his mind up to live in there. We are getting worried that he is getting rather lazy, as most nights he just seems to get up, go outside for some mealworms and a drink, then wander out of shot for a couple of minutes, then go back to bed. The whole thing then repeats a few times each night.

However, last weekend (9/10 and 10/11 April) he was missing. We thought he hadn't got up, but checking carefully we found he had actually moved out. It seems that he was only having a weekend away, as he returned the next night and has been there ever since. We have only seen him in 9f (right) occasionally, but of late this is probably because he has a neighbour - yes, another hedgie has moved in. This has led to some quite interesting confrontations in the hallway.

I found the one last night quite spooky. The hedgie came out of 9f (right) and had a sniff around and a good scratch in the hallway, then went out under the door. This is all in front of the new camera we have looking along the hall. Then as he went out, you could see Indy's eyes glowing in the IR - he'd been watching the other chap. He went to the door and had a pushing match.

So, that sort of brings us up to date. We have at least six hedgehogs around, since we had six in residence during today. We haven't handled any of them to give them a proper check up, but they all look quite healthy - active, and no signs of ticks. So, let's hope we have a good year and we get lots of hoglets.

All I have to do now is add some of the captures to the blog - we have been having real problems uploading videos to YouTube. It seems to be load - I set some uploading at 1:30 this morning and they uploaded ok. There will be more videos on YouTube than we have here, once they have uploaded.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Indy is still living in 9f (left) - we haven't seen him in 9f (right) since he came out of hibernation in 9f (right). We hope he didn't trash the place... We haven't been able to check, because he hasn't left the area of the boiler room yet.

He still seems quite wary about coming out of the boiler room. He seems to wake up, come out of the nest box and sniff around in the hall and then change his mind and go back into the nest several times each night...

... before finally coming out for something to eat and drink. We love the way you can see his nose sniffing under the door before he finally squeezes out through the narrowest part of the opening he can manage:

We have had a hedgie on the patio. One little chap went into 9b for a snooze, to find that its empty - we left the straw out to let it "air" and haven't put it back yet. The poor thing went in, curled up in a ball in the corner before dashing up to 9e on the lawn for a ten-minute binge on mealworms.

We also had a surprise when checking 9c. If we know there is a hedgehog in residence we leave them in peace, but we thught it was empty. We just opened the lid to check all was ok, fluffed up the straw and found a ball of spines. We shut the lid quickly. We hadn't seen anything go into 9c and checking the captures for the last few days we couldn't see anything either, so we think this may have been in for a few days, and is possibly back in hibernation. We will see...

Monday, 5 April 2010


We had friends visiting us over Easter, so unfortunately we haven't been updating the blog, even though the hedgehog activity has been increasing. We still left food out for the hedgehogs, so they were looked after, but we haven't been checking the videos in detail.

We did capture our first "over day" stay of the year, in 9a, the nest box on the lawn. When the hedgie appears he nibbles a leaf and then anoints himself before going into the nest box. We haven't caught a hedgehog self-anointing on video before. The nest box is under a bush so it looks quite dark, but it was daylight when he arrived. He then came out after dark and disappeared into the garden.

We haven't worked out which hedgehog is which yet, due to the usual identification problems, although this one seems to have a distinctive white forehead.

Indy is still living in the boiler room, in 9f (left), the other nest from where he was hibernating. We have seen him come out of the nest, do a lot of sniffing in the hall and then go back to bed again. He does finally come out for a snack, but we saw him come as far as the hall four times in one night before he finally came out. It's probably still a bit chilly for him, as it's only about 8 degrees at the moment.

We are getting about five or six visits each night, although we don't quite know how many different hedgehogs there are.

Still no sign of Nightshift - we hope this just means she's still hibernating.

None of the hedgehogs have gone down onto the patio yet, either, so they still aren't up to normal activity.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Indy Ventures Forth!

We were very excited last night to get our first sighting of Indy in 9f, as he zipped from 9f (right) where he had been hibernating for almost five months, into 9f (left).

Later on he nipped out for a quick snack of mealworms. He must be very hungry, so we were surprised he wasn't eating for so long, but we suppose it takes a little time to get his little body fully operational after being shut down for so long.

This was actually his second excursion, and he made a third one later in the night:

Just after he went into hibernation we put an extra camera inside the boiler room, but never had anything to test it on. We found last night that it wasn't very well positioned, so we changed it today, so it now looks across the whole front of 9f, inside the door.

We were rewarded with this lovely shot of Indy coming out of 9f (left) and having a good sniff. He obviously wasn't too happy with what he smelled, because he turned round and went back to bed. Hopefully he'll be out later for a good meal.

Hedgehog activity is slowly building in the back garden, although most of it is concentrated around the ATM - none have ventured onto the patio yet.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Indy's Made It!

We had great news tonight - Indy, the indecisive hedgehog who couldn't decide whether to live in the left-hand or right-hand nest box in our boiler room, made his first appearance after hibernation.

We were fairly certain he had hibernated in one of the two semi-detached nest boxes, as we saw him go in on November 2nd 2009, and we hadn't seen him come out. We couldn't be sure, since we hadn't checked all the movement trigger captures, and the cameras had been blind during the heavy snow over the winter. But, we liked to think he was still in there, and tonight we got our first sighting. It was only a few seconds - if you blink you miss him - but, true to form he's changing from 9f (right) to 9f (left). We don't think he's been out yet, but there's a bowl of mealworms and some water just outside, waiting for him, where they have been all winter - but not the same ones, I hasten to add - the local blackbirds and robins have been helping to clear them.

Things have been getting busy in the back garden as well. The first couple of days there only seemed to be a single hedgehog, with only one visit per night, but the number of visits has been increasing over the week, and there are definitely several hedgehogs visiting.

Most of the visits are still quite short, and most of them are only coming into the garden and standing at the ATM eating mealworms. We've only seen one visitor come as far as the edge of the lawn, and none have come down on to the patio where the three large nest boxes are. In most of the visits the hedgie comes down the alley, has a feed at the ATM and goes back up the alley, so it seems they are just coming for the known food source.

All the visitors look in good condition, very active, with no sign of ticks after the visitor on the first night. Their spines all look in good shape with none of the marks we used to identify them, so we can't say for certain if any of them are our regulars from last year, although they must be. We've seen no sign of Nightshift, and we think we would recognise her, but the others do seem to be smaller hedgehogs, so perhaps they are running short of reserves sooner than the somewhat "chunky" Nightshift.

We haven't been posting many videos yet, as there has been no real action, but hopefully things will start to get interesting.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

They're Back!

Welcome to the first post of 2010 - so, as you may have gathered, it means our hedgehogs have emerged from hibernation - or at least one has.

We saw the first little chappie at quarter past midnight on 21st March, and when we checked the previous night's captures we found he had appeared at 3:30 am on 20th March, and he came back a little later.

Here's the first sighting, coming down the alley:

And here he is, munching away on the mealworms:

A hedgehog has visited us several times each night since. We think it's the same one, but we can't be sure. The first hedgie has a projection between his eyes - we think it's probably a tick, and he seems to have several more ticks, but they don't seem to be in evidence since the first night. It may be a different hedgehog, or he may just have got rid of the ticks.

We don't know where the hedgehogs have been hibernating, but we think they were probably under the garden sheds in some of the other gardens.

We are very relieved that at least one has made it through the worst winter we've had for quite a few years. The hedgehogs hibernated earlier than last winter, and have appeared earlier - it was 1st April last year before our first sighting.

We did see one article on the web saying that it has actually been quite a good winter for hedgehogs, because the steady cold weather had meant they hadn't been brought out of hibernation early by warm spells.

At least this chap looks quite healthy - he's eating away and seems to be quite lively. He's one of the regulars, as after his mealworms on the ATM he went along the back of the garden and out under the decking. We wonder if it is "Visitor", the last hedgehog to hibernate, as this was his pattern, never coming right into the garden.

So, let's see how many of the others appear. We hope Nightshift has made it, as we know she came through hibernation last winter, and we have grown rather attached to her.

In theory, Indy is still hibernating in 9f (the boiler room). He may have sneaked out when we weren't looking, but we'll find out soon. We haven't checked the nest box since he stopped appearing in Otcober as we didn't want to disturb him.

So, our friends have returned. They do seem a little later than some of the other blogs we follow - Snufflehog saw his first hedgehog nearly a fortnight before us, and Midmarsh John's hedgehog has returned, and they seemed to hibernate long before ours.