It is last light on Monday evening and we are sitting in the garden drinking a cup of coffee.
A faint snuffling catches the ear coming from below the bird feeders.
It’s no surprise to find it is a hedgehog and I guess it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that it is one of the youngsters we reared after finding them exhausted during the heat of last summer. We had just returned home from the Wildlife Sound Recording Society Golden Jubilee weekend at Slimbridge, which had been scorchingly hot as well as coinciding with England’s World Cup adventures in Russia. As we drew up the sprawled body of a young hedgehog lay on the path to our back gate. Initially it seemed we were too late, but with a sprinkling of water on the ground it began to revive, then lifted itself back on four legs. Closer inspection then showed a puncture wound to its fore-leg – it was in a sorry state.
The next afternoon we found another youngster in the front garden, active when it shouldn’t have been. We brought it in to join it’s sibling – next door at reported a nest they had found under their decking – and a journey to recovery began that we logged in a weight chart, built on non-lactose milk substitute and wet hedgehog food (similar to tinned cat meat).
Whether it is one of our youngsters returning to the garden or not, it is a comfort to know that there are hedgehogs back in the garden again this year. It’s also good to know that the hedgehogs they didn’t find the robin’s nest that fledged five chicks at the weekend from its position on the ground in the wild area next to a raised bed at the top of the garden, but that is another story.
Here’s the recording of Monday night’s visitor’s snuffly vocalisations, before and then during the eating of some dry hedgehog food. It almost sounds to me like it is talking to itself!