Friday, 25 September 2009

Something ugly for the weekend

Sorry, I may shamelessly upset you with this post. Pre blog I was completely ignorant on this. Hedgehog searches bring many visitors to my blog so I feel perhaps I should highlight images that shocked and upset me this morning… for the sake of these endangered wild animals.

To help power through a growing ironing pile this week I had recorded a television series link on the programme Animal 24:7 about animal welfare both wild and domestic. Today whilst ironing/watching one of the recordings a hedgehog story came up.

Hedgehogs do enjoy wandering through the undergrowth of plants especially long grasses as you can see in the video below previously shown on my blog back at the beginning of August.

As mentioned in a recent posting long grasses and wild areas in our gardens can be the habitat for a number of wild animals including hedgehogs. For the most part we’d never know they were there as they can be so very well camouflaged. Does this matter, I hear you say… oh yes, very much so.

As garden strimmers move out from the dark corners of shed and garages over the weekend my heart goes out to the harm and death they can cause to this wonderful wild visitor to my garden that I have become so fond of.

There are campaigns against the use of garden strimmers and after seeing the images today on television and on looking at the one at the end of this posting you can see why I would support this.

On the other hand, I can appreciate that wildflower meadows that support many species of bees and insects survive now due to a regime of being cut down on a yearly basis and in many cases with strimmers.

What is the answer there? On a large scale… I don’t know, but in our gardens I can see one immediate solution if a strimmer has to be used. A full check of the area for any wildlife prior to using a garden strimmer would perhaps save injuries and lives. If you are in any doubt, sorry if this upsets you, please look at the images below.

The first photo shows a visit from a healthy hedgehog to my garden earlier in the summer. Notice its lovely shiny dark nose.

The next poster image shows a quite different nose on a hedgehog. Part of this hedgehog’s nose has been cut off completely by a garden strimmer. At guess this hedgehog was a youngster in the nest and was taken completely by surprise. That is quite horrific to think about isn't it?

Hedgehogs when in danger don’t run away but instead curl up into a ball. The other images on this poster show how parts of a hedgehog’s body was sliced. It was images of this on the programme today on live hedgehogs that have prompted this posting. The one that had its back sliced sadly died. I do apologise if this has upset you.

Today, I had planned some pretty photos of birds from my garden but I just couldn't let this go. I have felt quite strongly that I should make others aware of this too.

Here's a shocking end to this tale... I have a strimmer in a corner in my garden shed! I should say I haven't used it for a number of years. In my defence, I have only ever used it as a means of trimming the edge of my lawn and not in any long grass. However... perhaps a frog or toad has been hiding there!

This weekend I intend doing ‘one thing for nature’… my garden strimmer which is tucked in the corner of my shed is going to see the light of day! It will get but a brief outing… it will then meet with its own ending via my husband's 12lbs hammer. I can’t just throw it out for fear of it being used again and harming wildife. After seeing these images I can't bear to see it in my shed anymore.

On a quite different piece of wildlife news I am absolutely thrilled that shirls gardenwatch has made it to the final few nominees in the category of 'Best Gardening For Wildlife Blog' in the 2009 Blotanical Awards. The blogs entered are worldwide and I am well chuffed!

Update Sunday: Sorry I missed this on posting, perhaps you might like to browse the other finalists in this category... some I knew others I didn’t... all definitely worth a look :-)


Being completely honest,
although this is a competition any blog that supports wildlife and gets a wider audience just by being on this list is fantastic.

Each Blotanist could chose up to three categories where they would like there blog to be included. There are a number of more general categories like country/region too that all blogs are included in. A quick count through the regions has revealed a staggering 1703 blogs... Gosh, Blotanical really is growing! All categories drop down to a final five. I am just thrilled that this wildlife category exisits this year! Oh yes… good luck to all my fellow finalists :-D

I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering new blogs whist voting this morning. Here’s one that caught my eye and has been instantly added to my blog list…
Great Stems. It is listed in 'Best Blog Design' but I would have expected it to come in the wildife category too.

Many thanks to all who have nominated me for this award and for that of 'Most User-Friendly Blog' which I am also very thrilled about. I am always tweaking thing in the hope that visitors find what they are interested in.

Being from the UK, I would love to promote the final five here… just in case you’ve never come across them. A very worthy bunch too! Wonderfully quite a few have met too. It will be a close competition here :-)


I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish good luck to all nominees in all categories from all parts of the world. Voting closes in just a few days. A busy time for Stuart and his team at Blotanical!

I do know this is rather a bitter sweet posting to set you off on your weekend but please understand my thoughts are for the hedgehogs when they are already on the endangered list. I cannot bear to think that as gardeners we could harm them… they are our friends.

Please do enjoy your garden and its wildife this weekend.

The poster and images above came from the Epping Forest Strimmer Campaign. Support their petition here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wordless Wednesday... Naturalistic Potager

Naturalistic Potager, Cambo, Scotland

All photos above were taken on September 11th 2009. Click on photos to enlarge. Full garden visit to follow. See many, many more wordless postings for today.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Who’s hogging the covers?

Maybe just a few minutes more? Beneath a warm duvet of dried leaves and hay this hedgehog is making it look like a thought to go out into the night air.

We’re heading towards the end of September and in the ten days since the video above was taken the nights have turned a little colder. You could guess that might trigger more night time snacks for hedgehogs and even a few during the day too. Although in saying that day visits may not be a good sign at this time of year.

Hedgehogs will really benefit from extra food sources in gardens especially now as they build up their weight to survive winter hibernation. If you already feed birds then the chances are that you already have hedgehogs visiting your garden.

Often the food dropped to the ground from hanging birds feeders will also go down well with hedgehogs. In my garden I have found they enjoy sunflower hearts, crushed peanuts and sultanas which I’ve mentioned on a few occasions.

However, dried (or live) mealworms may have the highest success rate especially if you don’t feed the birds already. A word of warning though… put them out at night as many birds including Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds will make short shift of them too! I might suggest a dry night too so the hedgehogs can smell them. I could be pretty sure that putting them in a trail leading to my hedgehog house played a big part in getting them inside.

As the wind sends many of my taller plants in my garden almost horizontal today (wish I had taken photos recently) and day time temps are dropping the chances are that you may be starting to tidy up borders. Perhaps you might want to keep an eye out for hedgehog droppings. You can see what they look like below.

Seeing droppings will definitely give you a clue that hedgehogs are visiting your garden. If you want to see them return I might suggest you leave food roughly in the areas you see their droppings as most likely they will follow the same route. Along a wall or fence might be a good place to put food along too. I have watched them follow perimeters many times... as well their disappearing act under my hedge.

Ah… that has just reminded me of the joke by Dan Antopolski that won the Comedy Prize at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe….

"Hedgehogs. Why can't they just share the hedge?"
Quite funny I thought especially after seeing three get a bit bothered near mine one night.

One other thing re garden tidy up perhaps you could leave a small area as ground cover for wildlife for the winter months. Thinking of longer grass care should be taken there especially with strimmers! Quite possible hedgehogs, toads, frogs, slowworms and other wildlife could be hiding in it. I have had one myself for lawn edges but can’t bring myself to use it now.

Looking out my window I can see my Leylandii hedge still in serious need of its annual trim. I’m well behind in garden jobs and many house ones too! I haven’t been near the PC much recently either with one thing or another. So much to catch up on all fronts here too including comments, blog visits and photos from my recent Cambo trip.... see you soon.

Back to the garden and House Sparrows seem to be the birds of the moment coming to the feeders in large numbers. A much larger bird flew over the garden the other day… a grey heron en route to/from a garden pond I suspect. This summer has just disappeared and I had hoped to make a start on a new pond myself. No fish though… that would be taking feeding the birds too far!

The video above was taken on September 12th 2009. The photo above was taken during August 2007.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Blooming breathtaking

“Did you see the piece on Cambo in September Gardens Illustrated? If I lived up your way I'd be there every weekend” was the comment left by Rob at Our French Garden in a recent posting. No, I hadn’t… but I went out to get myself a copy pretty sharpish!

Cambo, I featured back in March with two postings on their fantastic snowdrop display Look out, look out… and Blooming Special. After this Rob did mention that Noel Kingsbury had been up to Cambo and that there was a new North American Prairie garden being planted out. I had been eagerly keeping an eye out locally for any word on this all summer.

Opening my copy of this magazine I was stunned! This garden is just over an hours drive away and I had never visited it until earlier this year. The snowdrops were breathtaking but my visit last Friday just blew me away.

The selection process of photos has begun but I can see already that this could take some time. However, I was desperate to share some images ahead of my posting so that others within an hour or two away may also enjoy this garden too.

Quotes from the Gardens Illustrated article highlighted:

“Cambo is strikingly contemporary – since 2001, the planting has been influenced by the ‘new perennial’ movement”

“Grasses play a major role in linking areas visually, and in providing continuity from one season to another”

“Sophisticated design and technical approaches to planting make Cambo a very exciting place indeed”

I would tend to agree with all of the above… and with Rob. I plan to try and visit this garden a few times more before the end of the year now.

On the home front, regular visits are still taking place to our hedgehog house. The image below shows a screen grab from my desktop earlier tonight. You can also see the cover image of the September issue of Gardens Illustrated should you want to pick it up too.

When working on the PC in the evenings, I can watch ‘Live’ any visits to our hedgehog house. Times of visits vary a little and sometimes they don't appear before I switch my PC off but the next day I can see the leaves have been moved around suggesting someone has been in.

The black screen is where I see the live image. You can also see the remote control image that I use to take video and photos. The long strip shows the photos taken. I thoroughly enjoy having this opportunity to peek in on night wildlife visits.

Coming back to garden visits, recently I heard from another blogger, DAFFODIL PLANTER, inviting me to share my seven favourite gardens. Well, not surprisingly, Cambo has been immediately catapulted into my top three! Ah… but it may well be a few weeks before I finalise this list. Now, this is going to be fun. I expect I'm going to have to refer to a few photo albums on this one :-)

Tomorrow is the 15th and Garden Bloggers Bloom Day once again where bloggers from around the world post on what’s in flower in their gardens. If you want to take part with a posting pop over to Carol's posting at May Dreams Gardens with your link and from there you’ll be able to browse other gardens too. Have fun… Happy Bloom Day for tomorrow :-D

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

My first OOTS

“What’s OOTS?” I hear you say. Nope, this isn’t a bit of broad Scots ‘tongue’ that I’ll have you guessing on. Okay, I’ll give you a clue…

Ah… perhaps that didn’t help. Too small a snapshot and perhaps not something usually associated with OOTS planting. How about this then…

Ah… it’s a long border! Well, strictly speaking yes it is. Have you guessed yet?

Gold stars all round to everyone who guessed that OOTS stands for Out on the Streets. The invitation for this quarterly posting is from VP over at Veg Plotting to share with everyone what public planting in your neighbourhood has caught your eye at the moment.

When is a wild flower meadow not a meadow… when it’s OOTS perhaps? For a while now I have wanted an excuse to include this strip of wildflower planting since I first spotted it on the way into the small village of Bridge of Earn. When VP suggested it would be great if I joined her this month with a take on wildlife I smiled. My small canon was packed away in my bag for the next time I passed.

At the end of this wild flower strip there is a small roundabout with a very tidy, colourful and imaginative display that will also attract bees, butterflies and many other insects. However, I just love to think of the insects enjoying wild flowers so much more. Wouldn’t it be great of strips like this were seen in city centres?

Okay… moving smoothly on to a city centre, with a less than smooth street, some bold street planting and another garden blogger...

Liz over at Gwirrel’s Garden has just posted photos of a visit to Edinburgh sharing her tour of the city in response to a conversation we shared via comments after my posting from the city last month which has some more OOTS.

Thanks for sharing your photos Liz! As promised (although a little late too) here is a photo of how Princes Street in Edinburgh was looking like during my recent visit. No Festival parades there this year. For those who don’t know, Edinburgh is at the moment constructing a Tram Service that will operate directly from the Airport all the way through the city centre and out to Leith Docks.

I wonder if the vibrant reds in the border planting above was considered to match the construction barriers or to perhaps give you such a colour sensation that you didn't notice the construction work behind it? A different plant use for OOTS ;-)

VP is running this episode of OOTS through the whole month of September if you want to join in with a posting yourself. She has set up Mr Linky where you can add the URL of your post and also be able to browse the other postings. I'd like to wish everyone fun OOTS :-D

All photos above were taken with a Canon PowerShot A520.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Raindrops keep falling on the hogs

There's been a whole load o' shakin’ goin’ on in da house! Since the first visits seen via a camera in our hedgehog house it has rained heavily in the evenings. A larger hedgehog has been visiting but so far no more napping has been seen…

Crushed peanuts and their skins have been sticking to this wet hedgehog’s nose too! Although they aren’t the only ones taking shelter from the rain… look out for the daddy-long-leg spiders climbing up the wall in the foreground.

So, its loads o’ shakin’ an scratchin’ too goin’ on in da house…

A final bit of shakin’ before stepping out into the rain once more…

This scratchin’ didn’t set off any alarm bells until tonight. The larger hog visited quite early at just after 9.30pm. The ground was wet but it wasn’t rainy so the video below doesn’t show any shakin’ just the scratchin’…

Just by chance I discovered that the hedgehog above actually has ticks… it is clearly seen itching one behind its ear. Now, it is clear when you notice it… but it was a couple of black marks (probably earth or plant material) that made me Google images of ticks to see what they looked like. Only when editing the clips I suddenly saw this hog had them. Oh... ah… it made me shiver at the thought!

Screen grabs from the video show one white bead (tick) in the top, centre in the photo below followed by the hog scratchin’ it with its back foot.

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society say: 'Blood-sucking ticks are often found on hedgehogs and after taking their fill of blood, will drop off the host in order to complete their life cycle. Removal of these ticks is a difficult task but can be accomplished by dousing the ticks in olive/almond/cooking oil. Removing these ticks with forceps is to be avoided as the inexperienced may leave the mouthparts and head in the skin that may turn septic.'

Looking for more images The European Hedgehog Website shows photos of the ticks on hogs and details other health problems… I might suggest you don’t look at their page if you are about to eat! They say ticks ‘…attach their heads to the Hedgehog's skin. They can be found around the face, often behind the ears. They can also be found around the tail and skirt. But they may also be found anywhere else on the Hedgehog. A Hedgehog with more than 12 Ticks will get Anaemia, which will severely weaken a it. A Hedgehog with more than 30 Ticks has a very poor chance of surviving.’

So, extra gardenwatching will be required here… although I don’t necessarily relish the idea. I fully understand in nature this hog would just have to get on with it. However, hedgehogs are on the protected list here in the UK and do need our help. I’ll keep you posted. I don't plan to intervene unless absolutely necessary.

Update Monday 7th:

This morning I discovered, through a comment from Hog Blog that I’d missed a video he had posted last week showing a hog with a tick where he dosed the tick with olive oil - full colour and commentary on this video too!

It is very doubtful that I’d ever have the courage to do this myself so I asked if he wouldn’t mind me showing his video here to let you see it too. You can find his posting here for more details.

Filming wildlife and specifically night time filming is not without its problems technically. Earlier this year my first trusty basic IR camera failed on me and sadly the same has just happen at Hog Blog tonight too… different problem. Hope he gets his sorted as it would be a shame for everyone who tunes in for almost daily hedgehog TV on his blog!

Recently, John at Midmarsh Jottings also had a problem with rainwater and his cables but today he shared some sad news about a sick hedgehog that he named 'Hope' that he took to a local rescue centre. Sadly she hasn't survived.

Watching and filming these endearing wild animals night after night, GL (Hog Blog), John and myself cannot help but get attached to ‘our’ respective regular hedgehogs (no pun intended). We are not alone either by the emails and comments we receive. There is just something so magical about these animals.

All video and photos above were taken in my garden over the weekend with the exception of the last one. Thanks Hog Blog for permission to show your video here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Sh... hedgehog napping

Finally, after much anticipation and finger crossing, we have seen the first images of a hedgehog exploring inside my Daughter’s Hedgehog House (made as school exam project). I really didn’t believe my luck last night as I looked in at a perfect time… just as one arrived!

The record button was quickly activated and I had no idea what would happen next! The hedgehog may have walked straight out again. However, it went straight into one corner and after a little adjusting itself into the space went to sleep! It looked like it knew its way around too.

Watching through a camera in a situation like this it is a difficult call to choose between recording video or taking photos. I completely understand that not everyone can view my videos. In this posting I have kept the videos as short ones to aid viewing when this is such a treat to be able to see.

For those who can’t view videos at all (like my parents who get a printed copy at the end of each month) I have some photos. The first video shows the hedgehog coming in and settling down to the corner seen above.

After an hours nap (my guess too) it leaves the house after eating some mealworms in the corridor outside the main chamber...

...only to return again half an hour later. Or did it? Could this be a second visitor... I certainly couldn't tell as I watched transfixed.

So what happened next? Another nap of course! Okay… but we were heading towards 1am and I was in need of a good nap myself. Ah… but I was curious to see if another hog (or the first one if there had been two visitors) would come in and what would happen then!

Nope… there were no further guests last night! Phew... too much excitement for one night perhaps. Ah… but plenty of room for one hedgehog to stretch out and make itself at home. Look out for the little feet in the photos below. The head finally faces towards the bottom right hand corner.

Nap over... it was time to head out into the night once again. Oh... but maybe just a few more mealworms first. It could be a long night :-)

Mm… change of plan… just another quick nap perhaps? You can see how fast the hedgehog's heart is beating if you watch the video closely. You can get some idea now of just how slow this heart rate must be reduced for hibernation.

Time was marching on as I watched the napping hedgehog and I guessed this time it could probably have another hours nap or longer… it was time for me to get some sleep now too.

Last night’s capture started at 11.06pm and hedgehogs can follow the same time night after night but tonight it is very wet with lots of puddles around my garden in borders and on paths so I might suspect we won’t see it appear.

On the other hand, it might just remember how dry, cosy and comfortable this hedgehog house and come in out of the rain. I’ll be 'looking in' with my camera just in case! Two nights in a row… I wonder…

Wishing you a great weekend :-D

All photos and videos shown above were taken in my garden late on September 2nd and early morning September 3rd 2009. The camera used in this hedgehog house is by Handykam.