My Hedgehog Story, by Hedgehog Champion Christine Chapman
26th February 2019
In 2012, we moved from Kent to our new home in Nottinghamshire – a detached bungalow with a generous sized garden. We made various changes to our garden and experimented with different ways of attracting wildlife. We created a wildlife area, but surrounding the garden was a wooden fence with gravel boards beneath meaning, nothing could get in or out. The garden was set to attract wildlife, with the birds, butterflies and bees and even bats all visiting – but they were all flying in and hedgehogs can’t fly!
At the end of August 2014, equipped with chisels and club hammer my husband David made a hole in the gravel board and following that, we saw what appeared to be hedgehog poo in our garden.
Six days after making the hole we heard a rustling noise coming from the wildlife area, and after collecting a torch and saw a hedgehog! We were SO excited!
We set up a feeding station on the patio, nothing fancy just two pots with a piece of Perspex across the top to keep the rain off, and the hedgehog became a regular visitor until his visits petered out in October.
By 2015, the hedgehog was seen most days early am and pm at the feeding station and moving around different areas of our garden. He seems to favour getting behind the plant pots and he is also very agile and will climb up and over them.
The hedgehog is not the only wildlife visitor to our garden; Frogs have made themselves “at home” in the wildlife area and can sometimes be seen poking their heads up out of the water plant troughs and in the pond.
Sparrow hawks – a male, a female and a juvenile, on separate individual occasions have perched on an inner trellis near to the bird feeders looking out for a meal. And we also had a family of blackbirds nesting in the top of a conifer and the young could be heard chirping. One day, a tawny owl flew across our garden and landed on top of the rotary line late one evening and then returned three nights later around midnight and settled on top of the trellis.
Throughout 2016, our “resident” hedgehog continued to delight us; we were addicted to watching him. On occasions we heard grunting type noises coming from within the thicket, could it be the hedgehog? In late August, we had a fantastic surprise – baby hedgehogs! Over several days, mum and babies would frequent the feeding station. Throughout September we observed the “comings and goings” of the juvenile hedgehogs. and into October it was clear that the “babies” were getting quite big, becoming more independent from each other and behaving differently, and by mid November the hedgehogs had stopped visiting the feeding station completely – presumably while they hibernated.
From 2017-present hedgehogs continue to visit our garden. A late summer addition of a second much bigger wildlife pond has attracted more frogs, “Darter” dragonflies, “Southern Hawker” dragonfly and birds including a fleeting visit from a grey wagtail.
After installing a trail camera we could now see the secret activities of our little visitors! We have learnt such a lot about the behaviour of hedgehogs and love them even more.
Credit: Story/quotes taken directly from Christine Chapman and her husband David. All images sources elsewhere.