We were rather shocked when we realised it is a month since the last post to the blog, so a bit of catching up is in order. We've been busy, not least keeping an eye on the prickly visitors to the garden.
This is the fourth year we've been watching the visiting hedgehogs, but we decided we would be a bit more "hands on" than in previous years - instead of just watching them, we would check them over on a regular basis, and more importantly mark them so we could be more precise in the monitoring. This has shown us just how many hedgehogs we have visiting, since without marking most hedgehogs do actually look quite similar, at least through the lens of an infra-red camera.
The last post to the blog, on 2nd April, reported on the eigth visitor to the garden, whom we had named Henry or Henrietta, as the hedgie had not fully uncurled. This particular hedgehog has continued to visit the garden, and a subsequent check-up has confirmed that he is, in fact, Henry.
That last post also referred to hedgehog number nine, Gordon, and number ten, Cameron, and until the beginning of the week that was how it has stayed, with ten hedgehogs. This week we had a sighting of an unmarked hedgie by the boiler room. We gave hime a check-up, and number 11 is another male, Osborne. We had a sighting of another unmarked hedgie two nights ago, but didn't manage to check him/her over.
So, the current count it 11, two females (Bailout and Cameron) and nine males. Not surprisingly, the girls are in great demand, and we have seen some very active courting. We were amazed to see that James had actually visited Cameron in her bedroom - they were active in there for an hour or so, before moving outside, where they spent another hour circling on the patio, (right outside the back door), before moving up the steps onto the lawn for another couple of hours.
Unfortunately, we'd had little Henry in for another check-up and were just about to put him outside again when the two lovers moved onto the patio, and poor Henry was nursed for an hour until the coast was clear.
James "007" was cetainly behaving like his namesake where the girls were concerned, but the other hedgehogs were also trying their luck. Although Quattro was living in 9a and 9f for quite some time, he has moved out of the garden, just spending the odd night in one of the boxes.
We now only have one resident - Cameron. She is alternating between 9c and 9d. She spends quite a lot of the night in one or other of the boxes, although she does go out and spend some time on the feeders, and also out of the garden.
It does seem that all eleven of the hedgehogs we have identified are still visiting the garden regularly, most of them several times a night. The only one we haven't seen for certain for a couple of weeks is Twearly, although we think we did see him two nights ago. His emulsion markings are wearing off and in need of touching up.
We are rather concerned that most of them have actually lost weight recently. We weighed them at the first opportunity after they came out of hibernation, and most of them had put weight on then next time we checked them, but subsequent checks show that most of them have lost weight since. We have had no rain in the area for about six weeks, so we think natural food supplies must be rather poor. We always have food and water out for them, but it seems they are still looking elsewhere. Water in particular is probably quite difficult to find, and we have seen several hedgehogs come into the garden, walk past three food bowls to the water, have a drink and leave the garden again.
The other big worry has been the large number of ticks on some of the hedgehogs. I think Bailout holds the record, with 36 ticks removed in one night. Fortunately, most of them were tiny, so they hadn't been on her to suck much blood, but we hate to think what state she should have been in within a few days.
After Bailout, the next worse hedgie for ticks was poor Alfie, with 22 on him, most of them very swollen with blood. As related earlier, he also had pneumonia, and we decided to bring him indoors for treatment.
We have found a wonderful Vet, Rachel, and she has been very helpful with his treatment. After a course of treatment with Baytril, his pneumonia cleared up, but he had developed a cough. We sent a poo sample off to Vale Wildlife Hospital. Caroline Gould, who runs Vale, was so helpful, analysing the poo sample, and ringing us up to advise on treatment. This told us that poor Alfie had lungworm and another parasite, so we took him back to Rachel for more treatment. After a five day course of Telmin for the lungworm, backed up with Baytril, his breathing was much improved. He's also had two injections of Ivomectin for the other parasite. We're due to start the second course of Telmin on Monday, and hopefully after that he should recover - a second poo sample to Vale confirmed that he was clear.
So, we should be saying goodbye to Alfie shortly, although we hope he will simply move back into his old home in 9b, where he's lived since he was a hoglet - but who knows? We will have to wait and see. The good news is that he has put on weight - he was 790g when we weighed him just after he came out of hibernation, 780g after we had removed all of the ticks. He's now 1050g, so we feel he's doing quite well.
So, that has brought things a little up to date. We'll try and take advantage of the long weekend to catch up on some of the videos we have to post.