Small Hours

In the small hours
I sit in the cool of the garden
listening and watching.
The breeze in the trees 
whispers a lullaby
while in the shadows a hedgehog
bumbles about his business.

Hibernating?

 

Hibernating?
Not yet.
Still visiting nightly,
caught on garden camera.
Hedgehog.

Night-Light

Night-light garden camera
picking up hedgehog visitors
not yet hibernating,
seeking my food offerings.

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I have a new toy. For my birthday at the end of August my eldest son and his wife gave me an infra-red camera for spying on night-life in my garden but I only got around to setting it up a few days ago.

One of the things I wanted to check on was to see if my hedgehogs were still around or were hibernating (which they do from approximately October-April). I know I have some neighbourhood cats coming to steal the hedgehog food and I don’t want to keep feeding the cats if the hedgehogs are no longer visiting!

I’m still trying to find the ideal spot for the best results on the camera, moving it to a different spot each night but have picked up enough to let me know the hedgehogs are still coming for food. I had about 4 or 5 visit last night but what I don’t know is if it is the same one back again or different ones each time.

Hedgehogs

I have mentioned previously that we have a visiting hedgehog and that he is part of the reason that I have created my mini pond (which you can read about here). I have not seen him every evening, but then I don’t spend all evening looking out for him. What I have noticed however is that he makes a beeline for the bird feeders.

One of the things I regularly put out at the bird feeding station is mealworms and I had taken to sprinkling some on the ground for the ground feeding birds. This is what the hedgehog was after, the ones missed by the birds! Hedgehogs love mealworms and although there is some benefit to hedgehogs from eating mealworms apparently eating too many is bad for them. One evening I managed to take a photo of him although it is not very good and a bit out of focus. Spike, as we have come to call him, obligingly stood still (or should I say froze in fear) and scuttled away as soon as I backed off.

Hedgehog Spike

Spike the hedgehog

Last Wednesday whilst shopping for more bird food I noticed some hedgehog food on the shelf nearby so I bought some. I put a small quantity out that evening. When I looked out later there was my hedgehog ambling away from the feeders. I did not see him feeding and I could still see feed in the bowl I had placed nearby, where I was sure he would find it. In the morning it looked as if some of the food had been eaten but quite a bit of it was still there.

So last night (Thursday) I put out some more hedgehog food in the same place. When I looked out after dusk, just as it was going, dark, I saw a shadow by the bowl, so I quietly opened our French Window to get a better look and could hear a small crunching sound. A hedgehog was eating the food. I quietly shut the door again and carried on watching. Soon I saw another shadow and a second, bigger hedgehog ambled round the back of the bird feeders and went to share the bowl with the first one – mother and offspring? They ate for a while together then the larger one trundled across the lawn towards the fence. The smaller one carried on eating for a while longer before following the same route and I stopped watching.

Later, just as I was about to go to bed I decided to look out again and as I did another hedgehog appeared at the bowl of food and stayed for a couple of minutes polishing off what little bit remained. Then, much to my delight he bumbled his way the few feet through the rockery and down to my mini pond where he stayed to drink for a minute or two before trundling off in a totally different direction to the first two. Success, my pond, created with the hedgehog in mind, had been discovered!

Then my thought was; have I got two or three hedgehogs? Was the later one the larger one returning or a different one? Which is Spike? Since the one on its own was a good while later in its visit and approached and left in different directions to the first two, who had come together, I’m inclined to think that it is a third hedgehog and this was probably Spike. I find this especially exciting as hedgehogs are considered to be in decline, yet here am I with at least two and probably three visiting my garden. I’m thrilled to bits!

A Very Mini Pond

It all started with a bee drinker. We are always being told that bees need water to drink in hot weather and every year I put some out for them. This year I had placed it on top of the stump of a tree that had been felled before we moved here, but then I decided to put it on the ground at the base of the stump so that our regularly visiting hedgehog could also have a drink.

This got me thinking about some more permanent arrangement such as a mini wildlife pond. Now hubby is not a fan of garden ponds so this was going to have to be something acceptable to him. It needed to be fairly small, preferably in a container of some sort and then there was the problem of where to site it. After much thought I decided the ideal place was at the base of our rockery where it is retained from the patio by a low wall which the ‘pond’ could sit behind.

Mini pond trialFor a container I remembered an imitation wood (plastic/resin) mini half-barrel which had originally been a small water feature on the rockery until the pump broke, at which point I had got hubby to drill some drainage holes in the bottom so that I could use it as a planter. This year I had not planted it up with anything but there was the small problem of the holes in the bottom. So hubby squirted some waterproof caulking glue into the holes and when it was dry I set it in position to see how it would look. I left it in position overnight and during the night it rained. In the morning there was about half an inch of water in the bottom. When I next went out to look, an hour or so later it was dry – obviously it was leaking. Hubby decided that the caulking stuff he had used was probably past its sell-by date and we would have to think again.

So it was back to the drawing board and I was re-thinking the whole project. Was this container big enough? Could I find another? Was that the best place for it? etc. etc. I spoke to my daughter-in-law (they have a proper garden pond, which my son built), mainly to scrounge a few small water plants and she told me that they still had some spare pond-liner if I wanted to do a bigger project. I didn’t think it would go down well but I ran it past hubby.  The answer? No, stick to plan ‘A’ and he would fibre-glass over the holes.

One week later the project was back on track with the original container. The plan was to place water plants through the holes in the covered section where the original pump had sat. This area would also provide some shade. I bought some aquarium gravel to go in the bottom and we were in business. It is preferable to fill ponds with rain-water but meanwhile we had had a problem with our full water butt – it was leaning over where the paving slab it sat on had sunk at one side. We had to empty the butt to solve the problem and all the water was sent down the drain as we had nowhere to store it – so no rain water! Second best is to leave some tap water overnight in a bucket or large bowl in order for the chemicals to evaporate and this is what I did.

nearly finished pondLast Friday I visited my daughter-in-law to collect a couple of small water plants. I set the container in place, filled and planted it up, adding some floating weed for purification (which came along with resident water-snail purely by chance!). The stones have been added to act as a bee/bug drinking platform and also to give access for ‘Spike’ the hedgehog to easily drink.

On Saturday morning I woke up to find that a Life Guard had turned up for duty, though Health and Safety would not be impressed as he was not wearing any headgear to protect him from the sun and nor was there a life ring for him to throw for critters in difficulty. However this was soon rectified and the pond is now complete and fully Health and Safety compliant. Some landscaping around it has been done but a little more is still needed. Hopefully, despite its miniature size, some wildlife will find it soon. When I commented to hubby that it may be a bit small to attract much do you know what he said? “You could have made a bigger one!” Sometimes you just can’t win. Maybe in another part of the garden…

Life Guard on duty

 

Living Dangerously

Sleepless night, I seek a cool breeze
by the bedroom window.
Out of the shadows below
a hedgehog bumbles across the road,
living dangerously.

Antics

Antics at the bird feeders;
the birds display their quirks and foibles.
Domineering, bombastic, bullying pigeons
defend their claim and stand their ground.
Opportunistic sparrows, robins, blue-tits,
dart swiftly in and out, evading strife
while on the ground the blackbird ferrets,
finding food spilled by the squabbles above.

Later in the evening the hedgehog snuffles,
seeking fallen mealworms among the grass.

Return

So
he returns.
Scuffling among roots
by the beech tree;
hedgehog.

Evening Meal

Helping
himself to
evening meal left
out for stray cat;
hedgehog.

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This Elfje also appears today on my other blog “Simply Elfje”, you can read it here.

Sharing

So far unseen,
but clues suggest
we have a hedgehog
sharing our garden.

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

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