Tag Archives: Africa

A boar, a sow and a hoglet? Surely not!

Any of my readers in either the Americas or Australia will wonder what I am talking about when I get excited about the European hedgehog  (Erinaceus europaeus)…

Hedgehog shropos

But that will be because, according to Wikipedia….

“A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, found through parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand (by introduction). There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas.”

Hedgehogs are lovely, sweet animals, which often turn up in the more countrified or overgrown gardens just as darkness is beginning to fall on a warm summer night, and the bats are coming out to hunt.
It is a well-loved species, which has, however, declined sharply in England over the last ten years, with an overall decrease of at least 25%. Hedgehogs are, in actual fact, disappearing in Britain at a quicker rate than tigers are in their own jungle habitat in  southern Asia. The problems for hedgehogs are the usual ones. Gardens are nowadays generally tidier with lots of neat wooden decking, and hardly any patches of weeds and rough grass, full of slugs and juicy snails. More efficient fences have fewer holes in them to allow hedgehogs to range far and wide. The extensive use of insecticide means fewer insects, and a greater possibility of being poisoned. Road casualties are high because the animals’ first natural defence is to roll up into a spiny ball. Not too effective on a busy highway.
Recently though, in our wonderfully overgrown garden, we have been visited by two, possibly, three hedgehogs. We think that they are either a mother and two different children, or possibly, a father, a mother and one rather small and cute child. They snuffle about in the leaf litter, and yesterday morning, in the wee small hours, at about three o’clock, it was actually possible to hear their chewing and crunching from inside the house.
This is the mother, we think…
P1000798
And these individuals are all youngsters, although only their mother could tell them apart, and they may very well be the one and the same little chap photographed on three separate occasions. Spot the catfood…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I think the reason for the arrival of these lovely, sweet little animals is the prolonged spell of great heat and severe dryness that we are currently experiencing here in England.  The drought means fewer insects than normal, and the hedgehogs are forced to try their luck closer to man than they might otherwise venture. We have fed our visitors with, for example, wet and meaty cat food, and they certainly appreciate a bowl of water. Traditionally, you are supposed to feed them a bowl of milk with lumps of bread in it, but this is not really a very good idea for a lactose-intolerant insectivore, even one who is willing to consume dog food when times are bad.
In this video, the mother is looking out for suitable scraps from the bird table…

My daughter had to stop filming when the hedgehog was on her shoe!
Here is our video of a cute baby hedgehog eating catfood:


The babies are called “hoglets”, and Mummy and Daddy are a “boar” and a “sow”.
If you are successful in finding and feeding any hedgehogs, make sure that you send your data to the 2014 Hibernation Survey which lasts until August 31st of this year. The more scientific data we have about hedgehogs, the more can be done to increase their depleted numbers.

To find out more about how you can attract hedgehogs to your garden and what to feed them, take a stroll along Hedgehog Street.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under My Garden, Nottingham, Wildlife and Nature

If I could fly, that’s what I’d be

There is not too much time left this summer, but you should still be able to see a few lingering Swifts flying high in the sky, before they make their migratory journey back to tropical Africa. Of all birds they are the most stunning fliers, and can make mere earthbound humans very jealous indeed…
swift 1
They are like a muscle powered flying torpedo…
SWIFT_tcm9-160960
They climb and bank with practiced ease…
swift_gc_tcm9-161003
Swifts feed on flying insects…
AMB_swift-catching-fly
They are so committed to continuous flight that they even mate on the wing…
Swifts-mating-(2)
Swifts spend the first two years of their lives continuously aloft, before building a rather rudimentary nest in a crevice in a cliff. In a modern city, they might nest on high-rise buildings, perhaps even in a man-made nest box.
nestbox
The bird’s Latin name “apus apus”  means “without feet”, and indeed, if a swift should ever fall to the ground, it will have the greatest difficulty in getting back into the sky, and may require assistance from a kindly passing human.
With their scythe shaped wings, swifts are a fairly large bird, and can be seen easily from quite a distance, even with the naked eye…


They often fly with House Martins, whose buzzing call is distinctive…

Here are a few swifts in slow motion

In Italy, you can even have dinner and still bird watch!

Swifts often fly round in family circles, screaming to each other, as here in Denmark…

Don’t you wish you could fly like that?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under My Garden, Nottingham, Personal, Wildlife and Nature