My first species on New Year’s Day 2019 began in the early hours of the morning with two Hedgehogs feeding on the food put out for them.
Collared Dove, Grey-lag Goose, Black-headed Gull, Starling, Jackdaw and Wood Pigeon were recorded from the garden, before setting out to see what Natural History could be seen fairly locally in Norfolk on the first day of the year.
The late evening (4th) saw 3 Hedgehog visits by two different individuals at 20.43, 22.24 and 23.06.
Over the last few days, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Starlings and a Blackbird consuming apples have visited the garden.
Despite appropriate food being put out the garden does not seem to attract Titmice, for reasons that are not clear. However, a small-hole nestbox erected on the wall of the brick shed last year was successful, with a pair of Blue Tits rearing young.
Another small-hole nestbox has been placed on the wall of the building, which will hopefully attract occupants birds or otherwise; possibly Tree Bumblebees Bombus hypnorum.
The garden, presently is in a semi dormant state, although the mild winter (thus far!) has seen many self-set seedling emerge including Three-cornered Leeks (flowers attracted Mining Bees last year) and Nasturtiums. All parts of nasturtiums are edible; the flowers and mildly peppery leaves can be used in salads and I have used the seed pods for pickling. They are also highly attractive to Large White butterflies, which deposit their eggs on the leaves and the emerging larvae skeletonise the leaves, but new plants from self-setting soon emerge.
Whilst the Large White and its smaller cousin are not at all popular with the ‘orthodox gardener’, this is a beautiful butterfly and like other species of butterfly are certainly not in the numbers they used to be and are definitely worth a few nasturtiums!
A visit from one of the Hedgehogs occurred at 21.12 (5th) and my first Dunnock of the year was amongst a nice selection of birds visiting the garden (6th). Pied Wagtail, Wren, Blue Tit (on one of the feeders briefly!), 4 Blackbirds, 3 Wood Pigeons, Starlings and a Collared Dove were other avian visitors. Even after all this time, I never tire of seeing birds in a garden.
Hedgehog observations continue with single sightings at 21.00 (6th), 23.16 (8th), 20.40, 22.20 and 23.53 (9th), 20.43 (10th) and two together 19.20, 20.00 with both individuals going into the hedgehog box, or should that be ‘Hedgehog Hotel’!
At least four different individuals have been seen, based on size and all have been using the box. Clearly, some of the hedgehogs seen are not ready to hibernate successfully, so let’s hope the weather remains mild, but the situation is being monitored.
Hedgehogs are still active in the garden and 2 appeared together at 21.15 (12th) followed by subsequent single visits at 21.42 and at 23.14 when a smaller individual was seen, before like the previous hedgehogs entered the box after feeding and drinking.
Hedgehog sightings were: two at 22.00 (14th), adult at 01.10 smaller individual at 01.15 and a ‘small’ hedgehog at 23.45 (17th).
A ‘small’ Hedgehog was in the garden at 00.40 (18th), which then entered the box.
A cold and frosty mid-morning saw the first visit of a House Sparrow (male) this year in the garden on the fat slab (despite being heard in the hedge opposite the garden) and 2 Dunnock, Woodpigeon Collared Dove and up to 8 Starlings visited the bird table. Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, 4 Blackbird, Robin and Magpie were also seen just outside the garden, although all have been recorded in the garden prior to 2019.
A small Hedgehog was seen at 05.48 (19th) and at 04.35 (20th) when it was seen feeding under the bird table, probably on peanuts accidently spilt there.
A ‘cold snap’ over the past two days has seen a variety of birds visit the garden for food, including 3 different Blackbirds feeding on apples and a Dunnock and a Wren.
With a light snow-fall during the night (30th), I made sure all the drinking/bathing bowls were filled with fresh water and a selection of food was put out, including some pears, which had already been a hit with the Blackbirds.
A selection of birds came to the garden for food, including Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Starling, Blackbird, Dunnock, House Sparrow and 2 Blue Tits passed through the garden, one chasing the other, but food was not their first priority at that point in time!
A high degree of intraspecific Blackbird territoriality has been taking place recently and the majority of the dominance has been achieved by females, who have also taken to chasing any other species that comes anywhere near, such as Dunnocks.
A second Hedgehog box has been in the making and today it was put in place in the garden. Its placement has two uses, one as a hedgehog hibernation/breeding box, but also as a raised platform for the rainwater tank. Basically, making use of a recess, which would otherwise have been an empty space in order to raise the tank’s tap to a workable height.
The cost of the construction was under £10 mainly using gravel boards and will hopefully be utilised by the hedgehog population in the future.
The last day of the month, despite a very cold night saw a Hedgehog venturing out at 00.30, to feed on the hedgehog food, which is put out every night. Further sightings occurred at: 00.30, 23.00 and 23.25.
Feeding folowed by retreating to the hedgehog box