Stabby’s back! Stabby the blackbird has finally let her offspring visit the Place Where Sultanas Appear. Or rather, she looked at me cutely until I gave her some sultanas while her two fledglings skulked at the end of the garden. Once she felt she had a big enough mouthful she flew off to feed the brood and I haven’t seen her since. At least this time I got some photos:
The garden’s been busy for hedgehogs this week. I usually see them at about 10.30pm and the other day there were two – a big one and a little one – eating scraps from under the bird table. Two days ago the small one was out at 11am. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so I know this isn’t normal behaviour. Last month I saw something very strange – the large hedgehog was making snorting noises and walking in a circle around the small one, who was rotating on the spot in order to keep facing the big one. They did this for ages and eventually I got bored and went to bed leaving them to their strange ritual.
Now that I had witnessed two bits of hedgehog behaviour I hit the internet to find out what was going on. You won’t be surprised to hear that the snorting ritual is hedgehog mating behaviour. Apparently they can do this for hours. The male does all the circling but you can’t tell a hedgehog’s sex by its size – sometimes the male is bigger, sometimes the female.
The daytime visit turned out to be something I should worry about. One website claimed that all hedgehogs seen out in daylight are either sick or injured. Another website more helpfully suggested that daytime hedgehogs may not be finding enough food at night, and showed how you can tell if a hedgehog is underweight. What you do is roll the hog onto its back. If it looks round it’s OK, if it is longer than it is wide it’s underweight. I saw it (her?) again that evening and she passed the weight test. I don’t think she was particularly appreciative of my concern.
As my hedgehogs are not starving, I’m guessing the daytime activity is due to the dry weather: slugs and snails hide up during dry spells so the hogs are probably finding it hard to find food. We’re due rain from tonight so they won’t need to live off bird food for too much longer.