With the national hedgehog population declining we have worked on ways to help it out at Gribin Isaf. Feeding of course, but also caring for the late-born youngsters who have not put down sufficient fat to survive a winter hibernation.
After various ad hoc arrangements in the past, last Autumn we insulated a shed, put in tube heaters and successfully brought seven individuals through the winter for a Spring release.
The drought conditions this summer have made things very hard for hedgehogs. The hard dry ground has made their natural food supply difficult to find.
We realised we had a hedgehog hotel with spare capacity so did let the local vets know that we could take on cases that were brought to them.
It proved to be a feisty youngster, nipping the hand that fed it. Fortunately it was just about past the stage where it would need feeding through the night so four-hourly daytime feeds quickly helped it gain weight:
Very nearly a 50% increase in five days
In addition this hedgehog gave us the first exhibition of self-anointing we have ever seen.
Over a month ago Cagney, our one and only Muscovy duck, went broody. At first we ignored her but after a while decided to let her have a go. Unfortunately she then stopped laying so was only sitting on two eggs. In order to give her more of a clutch we added some Cayuga eggs.
Muscovies are said to be good mothers and Cagney has been a conscientious sitter, just getting up twice a day for a wash and brush up. This is made more impressive by the fact that this breed have an incubation period of 35 days, as opposed to 28 for other ducks.
We monitored the other eggs without much hope for the Cayugas as they were actually due several days later. Another egg was pipping, not the other Muscovy but indeed one of the Cayugas. It did not emerge easily – this breed seems to have very tough shells. We helped on three occasions and it took two days for it to get rid of its shell
Some bought in eggs – five out of six Marans hatching and a couple of Speckled Sussex.
No rain for at least two months and it feels as if we are surrounded by death and destruction. So what is doing well?
Insect (and spider) life seems ok
We have heard grasshoppers in our meadow for the first time and it is nice to see Large White
and Small White
caterpillars enjoying themselves in the polytunnel
As, in any conditions, all polytunnel water is provided by us we can take credit for these swellings
but somehow the Runner Beans are sucking up something to start their crop
Having constructed a state of the art Autumn Juvenile Hedgehog Care Home last year we have let it be known we can accommodate the young hogs that are definitely losers in the drought. Today we have a referral from the vets
an active yougster
includes our own bacon, radish, turnip, salad leaves, tomatoes, courgette
We had some rain today. After six or seven weeks without any appreciable precipitation there were a few little showers. It did not wet the ground under the trees. It evaporated from the vegetable beds before it could soak in. But it was nice to see.
The flora around us is shutting down – get the seeds done then give up. Fauna activity is changing – hedgehogs disappearing, badgers ranging wider.
By cultivating life in polytunnels we take responsibility for the climate. Here are some glimpses in the one we call Zenith:
Bee inspection today
lots of store
but no brood.
We are worried we might be Queen-less.
Slightly cheered up by the sight of a new species (for us) of dragonfly
The Darter we have is characterised by resting on a photogenic twig but this Southern Hawker does not keep still so we just get a blur of green and blue