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.