Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Snuffling on a Monday night

During this current spell of hot weather I've had all the windows and back door open and last night the house was full of the sounds of hedgehogs! There was lots of snuffling going on. Here are the culprits:The one on the left in the above picture was my new friend the little hog with paint on her back (I think she's a she anyway).

She seems to be getting used to me now. I gave her a handful of mealworms and while she didn't quite eat out of my hand she did star munching on them about as soon as I put them down.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Sunday night's hedgehog movie

Here are some hedgehogs in my garden on Sunday night. The first hog we see entering the feeding station desperate to get to the bowl of mealworms is the little hog with paint marks on its back who has been visiting the garden recently.

In the final scene, we see how there comes to be such a mess in the feeding station in the morning!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Return of the Painted Hog

I'm glad to report that the hedgehog with paintmarks on its back which I photographed on Thursday night has been making return visits. I think some of the paint may have been rubbed off because the pattern looked a little different. I did consider that it might be a different hog that had also been marked in a similar way, but having studied these photographs very closely and compared them with Thursday's photo, I am confident that this is the same hedgehog.

The paint can be seen more clearly in this next photo (below) which shows the hedgehog from behind. The hog also appears to have a tick on its back. These parasites are quite common on hedgehogs. Apparently if you apply baby oil, the tick suffocates and falls off.

Here we see the hog doing what hogs love to do best, namely eating. This bowl contains dried mealworms, crushed peanuts and sunflower hearts. The mealworms always disappear the fastest. The other bowl in the feeding station I have recently been filling with Spike's Dinner, a brand of food specifically for hedgehogs that you can buy from pet shops. It is similar to dried cat food. You can also feed them on cat food, so long as it isn't a fishy variety.

This final picture is of a different hedgehog that was sneaking around behind me whilst I was re-filling the food bowls. Note the two bricks behind it. This is where I put the video camera for my hog videos.

I know that a lot of hedgehogs come to my garden, because I have seen a lot of different hedgehogs of different sizes, but the most I had seen at any one time was three. Last night was a first for me, because I saw four all on the garden patio at the same time. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera to hand, and couldn't have fitted them all into a single shot at the same time anyway.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Who's been marking my hogs?

This poor little hog in the above photo looks extremely worried. I do like to let them go about their business without any interference as much as possible, but sometimes for one reason or another I find that I just have to take a closer look. Late last night I saw this hog out of the back door window and it appeared to have weird markings on its back so I went out to investigate.

The hog didn't really want me to examine it and tried to hide behind some canes in the corner of the patio. It appeared to have some paint daubed on its back. I took a quick photo, gave the hog a handful of mealworms and backed off. As I was going back into the house I could hear it munching on the worms, so hopefully its brief encounter with me was forgotten and it was happy to have something nice to eat.

So, how did this hog get paint on its back? I was a little indignant at first, thinking "Who's been marking MY hogs?" (It's funny, I think of them as being mine but of course I know that they are not). However, the more I thought about it, it seemed like a good sign. If someone marked the hog it probably means that they wanted to keep track of its comings and goings to their garden. Which implies that they are interested in wildlife and are possibly feeding hedgehogs themselves. I wish I knew if it was one of my neighbours, as it'd be good to compare notes (and to make sure they weren't putting down bread and milk which is not good for hedgehogs). Personally, I'd prefer it if they didn't mark the hogs, but I suppose no harm has been done.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Close-up video footage of hedgehogs

Last night I tried raising the video camera up by placing it on top of two house bricks so as to eliminate white-out in the foreground where the infrared bounces off the paving slabs. This seemed to do the trick quite nicely as can be seen from these close-up shots of hedgehogs. I scattered some mealworms on the patio to encourage the hogs to come closer-up to the camera.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Poorly hog? Or just tired?

Last night I was concerned about this hog (pictured above) who was sitting in the feeding station for a very long time, seemingly not moving very much. I was wondering if the poor thing was sick, and yes, I did go away and leave it alone for about an hour, but when I checked back it was still there.

I wonder perhaps if it had simply gorged itself on food and was feeling too bloated to move. It was a big hog.

I woke up in the night, at approx 3:00 a.m. and went to to check the feeding station again (because I was worried), and thankfully the hog had gone. I had visions of having to get it to an animal rescue hospital in the morning.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Hedgehog gymnast

Just a short hedgehog movie this time. The hog at the beginning seems to be quite the gymnast! You don't think of hedgehogs as being as supple as that.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Hedgehogs: How to get yourself noticed!

Here is some lovely infrared footage of hedgehog courtship from last night.

The male hedgehog is running around like a mad thing in a seemingly vain attempt to get himself noticed by the female hedgehog, who is sitting inside the hedgehog feeding station and seems far more interested in eating!

Monday, 15 June 2009

"Listen to them, Children of the night. What music they make."

OK, so Count Dracula wasn't talking about hedgehogs when he uttered the words in this piece's title. But he could have been!

Here is a compilation of clips from the weekend. On Saturday night I was trying out a different camera position, although because everything is much closer to the camera we are beginning to run into the white-out problem with the infrared. Sunday night's footage sees the camera returned to its usual place against the back wall of the house.

Notice the scene where a second hedgehog enters the feeding station and tries the push the first hog there out of the way, but this one won't be budged!

Also notice how some of the hedgehogs seem to like sitting IN the foodbowls. This will explain the mess I find in the feeding station when I come to clean it out each day.

Finally - if you have the sound turned on - you'll notice that this movie has a soundtrack of hedgehogs snuffling. This recording was made during one of Friday night's noisier visits when two hogs were doing the "circle dance" (see previous post).

Friday, 12 June 2009

Getting to know you

A quite remarkable thing happened tonight. I'd had a very busy day out in London and was spending all my evening sorting out photos and hopefully some text for another blog that I write, when it occured to me that it was getting late and I hadn't done any hedgehog watching. I had put food and water out already, but when I went out into the garden to see whether there were any hogs about I found they'd already been and gone and eaten all the mealworms in the bowls in the feeding station.

I fetched a tub of worms, knelt down on the patio, took the lid off the feeding station and poured mealworms into the two bowls. I sat back for just a moment and then realised I was not alone. There was a small-ish hedgehog right by my right knee looking at me and twitching its nose, as if to say "About time too! I've been waiting for my dinner."

I was just amazed. I know that the hedgehogs will come if I sit quietly in the garden, but this time I was hardly being quiet. The hog (pictured above) knew exactly what I was doing.

Shortly after this a second hog arrived and they began the snuffling and circling dance. I recorded some of the snuffling on my digital recorder. I'll have a go at seeing if I can succesfully transfer it to my laptop and make an MP3 for you to hear. It's quite a particular sound and you'll understand why I sometimes call them "snufflehogs" when you hear it.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Young Hedgehog

I found this beautiful little hedgehog outside my house on the pavement and about to cross the road. Now, that set up a bit of a dilemma in my mind: what should I do? On the one hand I appreciate that hedgehogs are wild animals and that we shouldn't interfere with the natural course of things too much, but on the other hand - and this was my immediate reaction - I thought "No, don't got that way, come to my garden and I'll give you some food."

I didn't like the idea of the hedgehog on the road where it might come to harm. Obviously, short of keeping it in a box there's no way I could keep it from such harm forever, but I very gently picked up the hedgehog and took it to my back garden where I gave it mealworms. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to want the mealworms and scurried away to the undergrowth. Well, at least for my own peace of mind it's safer in the environs of my garden and my neighbours' gardens than out the front on the asphalt and paving slabs and where there are cars.

I know you shouldn't interfere with hoglets - the really tiny little baby hogs - unless you really have to, but looking at this one it was a bit older than that, and was perhaps 20cm in length. From what I understand hedgehogs don't make particularly good parents and abandon their young to make their own way in the world at quite an early age. This little hog, I believe, would be such an example. There certainly were no other hedgehogs nearby - it was out on its own.

My rationale in bringing it into my garden was that it might make it realise that it was a good place to come for food and water. Let's hope it sticks around.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A busy night at the hedgehog feeding station

Here is some more footage from last night, which was a busy night at the hedgehog feeding station. At one point it looked like it was getting a little crowded in there!

Note how the second hedgehog to enter lifts its tail. At the risk of sounding indelicate, it turns out from the evidence found later that it was doing a poo. I've seen hedgehogs do this near to a foodsource when other hogs are around, and think possibly it might be territorial "staking a claim" behaviour.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Saying "Thank You" to a Hedgehog

This movie, although hardly action-packed, illustrates quite nicely the relationship I have with the hedgehogs that visit my garden. I like to think that they tolerate me so long as I don't make any sudden moves. If I sit or stand quietly, they don't mind me being there. Some, like this one, even seem to pose for me and wait patiently while I take their photograph.

Note how this little hog standing in the entrance to the feeding station, whilst wary of me, unflinchingly stands its ground even when I put a handful of mealworms right beneath its nose. The object I pick up from near the entrance, by the way, is a digital audio recorder. After picking this up, I withdraw inside. See how the hedgehog eventually accepts the present of mealworms and starts eating them.

Not all hedgehogs that come to the garden are quite as brave as this one. Possibly some are more regular visitors than others and are more used to me coming and going, filling up the foodbowls and taking photographs.


At last I get one of my hedgehog movies onto the BBC Springwatch website. I don't think it's the best movie I've sent them, but perhaps they didn't want to use the others because they were compilations of clips rather than one continuous piece of footage.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

A few Sunday night hedgehog photos

I went outside just a few minutes ago and sat on the back door step and just watched and listened to the hedgehogs. There was a lot of snuffling going on! Here are a few of the culprits:

Saturday night's hedgehogs

Here's some late Saturday night hedgehog action. Well, not too much "action" as such, it's mainly hedgehogs eating, although one poor hog gets pushed around by another quite roughly in one scene.

Earlier on in the evening I had the feeding station in place. I thought I'd experiment by putting the camera directly inside the feeding station. It was worth a try, but the results were not useable. The insides of the box are just too reflective and so you get a total white-out. Also, if a hog comes too close to the camera then you just get a big white blob in the picture. It's a pity I chose then to try the camera out inside the box, because I was watching through the back door window and saw quite a lot of hog action outside of the feeding station.

There were between three and five hogs in the garden at the same time (it's hard to count sometimes when they are running around - one runs off and then one appears and you don't know if it's the same hog or a new one). One hog in particular seemed to be quite hyperactive and was pushing the others around and was quite literally running in circles around the garden. Unfortunately none of this was captured on camera.

Nevertheless, please do take a look at the above video. It contains some really nice footage of our spiky friends.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Hedgehogs on a wet Friday night

Here's a compilation of last night's footage. The hogs seem much more subdued in behaviour than they have been recently. There's none of the seemingly aggressive pushing and shoving going on, and for most the time there's only one hog around at a time. Note how in the beginning clip one hog is blocking the entrance to the feeding station - this is why I moved one of the food bowls outside as seen in the remainder of the movie, even though it was raining.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Back home in Oxfordshire

It's funny, but I've really missed my spiky friends. I couldn't wait for it to get dark tonight and for them to make an appearance at the food bowls. The motion sensor infrared camera is outside now as I type this, so expect some more hedgehog movies this weekend!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Red Kite in Pembrokeshire

Here we see a Red Kite flying over the field behind my parents' garden in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The field is in the process of being harvested and the kite is following the combine harvester and tractors presumably to see if anything scavagable has been turned up by the farm machinery.

Red kites have been succesfully re-introduced to England and Scotland in recent years - there are plenty to be seen back home in Oxfordshire - but here in Wales there's been a population of them all along, although admittedly the numbers are much better these days than they have been.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Foxy business in Wales

I'm still in Wales, so sorry, no more hedgehog pictures until I get back home. But in the meantime here's a fox that's been in the field behind my parents' house for most of the evening. The farmer has only today cut the grass down - the fox has probably been around in previous days, but would not have been visible in the long grass.