As a quick follow on from my last post, I did in fact manage to drag myself out of bed at around half past 4 on Sunday morning for some spectacular bird song, accompanied by the most beautiful sunrise. What a way to start the day! So I’m told, my sunrise tweet on twitter even ended up on the national ITV News that Sunday night. Fame at last!
I’m still very much a bird song novice but I could pick out a few notable songsters such as the blackbird, robin, mistle thrush, great tit, wood pigeon, chaffinch, blackcap and (a very noisy) wren.
The reduction in noise as a result of lockdown meant the clarity of the dawn chorus was superb. Sadly though, according to the RSPB, we’ve actually lost 40 million birds in the last 50 years which is staggering. Hopefully, we can turn the tide on this decline and enjoy many more ‘Dawn Chorus Days’ for years to come.
Sunday 3rd May also saw the beginning of ‘Hedgehog Awareness Week’, which runs until the 9th May, organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS). The aim is to raise awareness about the problems hedgehogs currently face, as well as providing some helpful advice and tips to encourage hedgehogs to thrive.
These highly popular, instantly recognisable mammals are in serious decline according to a 2018 report by the BHPS and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). Although it’s difficult to monitor these figures accurately, numbers are approximately down a third since the year 2000. Here are a few things we can do to help our favourite prickly garden visitors.
- Create a ‘hedgehog highway’ – Hedgehogs travel on average one mile each night and creating a handy little 13cm x 13cm gap at the bottom of your garden fence can provide easier access between garden spaces.
- Provide food and fresh water – A hedgehog’s diet consists of invertebrates such as slugs, worms and beetles but an extra supplement can be offered in the form of specialist hedgehog food or a meat-based cat/dog food. Mealworms and milk are off the menu and should be avoided. A small water supply in a shallow dish will keep your visitors hydrated too. If you’re worried about other species or pets eating the food, a small ‘feeding station’ can be created using a large clear plastic container with an old section of piping as the entrance (details can be found on the ‘Hedgehog Street’ website link below).
- Set up a safe retreat or hedgehog house – Hedgehogs need a safe place to sleep during the day and hibernate throughout the winter. There are a variety of specialist hedgehog houses available to buy or alternatively, you can create a log pile, compost heap or overgrown space in a quiet, shaded corner of the garden.
- Use an alternative organic method as opposed to pesticides or chemicals – These can be harmful to hedgehogs and their food chain.
These are just a handful of changes we can make to ensure life is a little easier for these lovable little creatures. For further information, I’ve added a link below to the fantastic campaign ‘Hedgehog Street’, created by the BHPS and PTES. Ecologist and Author Hugh Warwick, @hedgehoghugh on social media, is also a great hedgehog advocate. He’s set up a change.org petition to ensure new housing developments are legally required to include ‘hedgehog highways’ in fence panels as standard. Below is a link to the petition.
Together, we can all become ‘hedgehog champions’ and help save one of the UK’s iconic and most-loved mammals from the brink.
Useful hog links: