Saturday, 18 August 2007

The hedge and the hedgehog

August is a good month, in Scotland, for trimming hedges as the birds have now finished nesting. We began trimming our Leylandii hedge on the 7th but were unable to finish it as the weather turned wet. However yesterday evening we managed another couple of hours – but this morning it is wet once again! The final strip should take another couple of hours and is the one I appreciate the most as I look out on to it from my window. Once it is trimmed it recedes into the background and all my foliage plants can be appreciated much more.

This morning as I look out my window the birds are diving into and around my garden – I love to see them do this. Yesterday I refilled all my feeders with sunflower hearts and as it is raining I expect they will be empty by the end of the day! I have noticed that the feeders are always very busy on wet days. I have just spotted a wren and the blackbirds are now running around the ground too.

The blackbirds in my garden seem to have an adventurous palette. Earlier in the summer they were caught at a dish of hedgehog food we had put out for a hedgehog we spotted in the garden one evening. We would put food in the dish in the evening and by morning it would be empty - we were delighted as we thought the hedgehog was taking the food. It was only when I was up particularly early one morning myself that I spotted this early bird feasting from the dish! We eventually stopped putting the food out.

Cat food, funnily enough, is a favourite for the hedgehogs! I know of a lady who puts cat food specially out at her back door and has had up to five feed at the same time – babies too. She would see them at around 9.30pm and that is the time when we saw our visitor. I am guessing that is perhaps early for a hedgehog as I know of another wildlife garden that they visited at midnight – you can see pictures of that visit here .

Just before midnight last night I went out to return something to our guinea pig hutch – I had cleaned it earlier in the day. This hutch is kept in a sheltered spot at our back door. I put on the outside light and opened the door and immediately took a second take. There was something standing on the gravel in front of the hutch. At first glance it was the size and shape of a guinea pig. It wasn’t a guinea pig though – it was unmistakably a beautiful hedgehog. I shut the door, put out the light and ran for my camera.

Of course, the hedgehog was gone when I returned! Luckily it was a dry and mild night so I decided to give the video camera a try. I put up my tripod and set my camera on the 0 Lux setting – the image would now be black and white. I watched the viewing screen from inside for a while and then let it run unattended. It was late, so after a while I went out to bring the camera in. I opened my back door to find a hedgehog at my step searching for food at one of the tripod legs! It’s a good job I have a very sturdy tripod. It quickly ran away – but hey I did catch it and another visitor on film as you will see in my video below.


A garden first, video 0:44 with background music, try 480p quality.

Guinea pig food occasionally drops from our hutch – was this what had attracted the hedgehog? You will see in the video that the hedgehog stops and sniffs at something on the gravel in the centre of the picture. When I first saw it last night I had thought maybe it was attracted to the guinea pig food and as I had swept this area earlier I put some out on the gravel to see if it would take it. You will see from the video that it didn’t seem interested. So what was bringing it to my back door?

Recently, one very wet evening, I went outside to put the rain cover down on the guinea pig hutch and noticed some soggy bits of food on the ground that looked like had attracted slugs and snails. My thoughts were to clean it up in the morning – which I did. Of course - I should have remembered! It has been the slugs and snails that the hedgehog has been looking for – now I have a dilemma. Do I put out ‘hedgehog’ food in a dish to bring them back? As a gardener I am happy they are eating the slugs and snails and perhaps if I put out food they won’t look for them. Then again it might help them stay in my garden. Mmmm tricky one. Yes, I think I will put food out – if only to feed them up so they can survive their winter hibernation. I secretly hope though that they will munch their way through the slugs and snails in my garden!!

Finally, as I have been writing this the blackbirds have been busy again! They have now spotted the guinea pig food I put out for the hedgehog last night and have had a few nibbles at that. Another has passed by with some hedgehog food – a slug which it carried off into the border and enjoyed!


The video above was taken in my garden, just before midnight, on August 17th 2007.

4 comments:

Layanee said...

Shirl:
What a great video and post on the little hedgehog which is such a mystery to those of us outside of the UK! They are cute little creatures aren't they?

shirl said...

Hi again, Layanee

Thanks :-) I couldn’t believe I actually caught it on film!

Tonight it is raining quite hard so I will not bother putting out any dried food – there will probably be enough slugs and snails anyway. It is almost 10.30pm and I have looked out - no visitors at the moment. I hadn’t realised hedgehogs were only seen in the UK :-(

I have just looked through the British Hedgehog Preservation Society site and read that they like to eat sultanas so I just have scattered a few out at my back door step – the rain won’t waste them. The blackbirds will always find them in the morning!

I am really not familiar with hedgehog visitors to my garden so it will be good to share my experience through my blog – should they become regular visitors :-)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Shirl, that is a great video catch!I'm glad the hedgehog didn't knock over your tripod. We would probably all be surprised if we knew what came into our yards at night. I think I'd rather not know. I'm pretty sure I must at least have a rabbit, because something is eating my hosta leaves all the way to the ground.

shirl said...

Hi again, Robin

Thanks :-) I was delighted with my video capture of the hedgehog but the view we had from inside was even better! I have now made a feeding station which I will post on at the end of the week - unless I get some good video before then.

Yes, who knows what visits the garden at night. We get pipistrelle bats in the evening too but I haven't managed good footage of them yet!