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.