Since moving to the country, Ade and I have become much more wildlife conscious and are keen to do all we can to help the local animal life. You may recall Ade built some bird-boxes last year which he positioned around the garden, and it took no time at all for the blue tits to move in. He also built Bugmetropolis; a structure made of old logs to offer shelter to insects and other creatures.
But the animal I’ve been really excited about encouraging into the garden is the hedgehog. Until last year, I hadn’t seen a hedgehog for about twenty years. Unfortunately, their numbers have declined drastically in recent years, so I wasn’t convinced I’d see another one any time soon. But sure enough, while Ade was rooting through a pile of wood chippings in our garden last summer, what did he come across? A hedgehog. He immediately called me over and I was so thrilled to see it! The hedgehog, however, was less than thrilled to see me. It appeared that Ade had disturbed him from his nap, and he wandered off grumpily into the hedge. Alas, we never saw him again. (He may well have been a she, incidentally!)
Anyway, fast forward to last Christmas when Ade and I set each other the challenge of including a homemade element to each other’s Christmas present. I’d been rather chuffed with the chocolate truffles I made him, but Ade put my efforts to shame when he unveiled this:
A hedgehog house. He built it himself from discarded bits of wood and other off-cuts. Isn’t it fab? I was so impressed! As was Daisy. (She thinks it’s hers, of course.)
There’ll be no sign of any hedgehogs until at least March when they awaken from their hibernation, at which point we’ll find a quiet spot for the hedgehog house, line it with newspaper and dried grass, camouflage it, and see who claims it!
But while we wait for our prickly pals to emerge from their winter slumber, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy nature in the UK this January:
• Snowdrop Surveillance
Have you spied any yet? I spotted my first clump of snowdrops in a neighbour’s garden on New Year’s Day!
• The Big Garden Birdwatch
Spend an hour monitoring the birds in your garden or local park between 25-27 January and submit your results to the RSPB. You can register for free here and the data you provide helps the RSPB monitor bird populations in the UK, enabling them to identify any problems. We’ve got so much birdlife in our garden and we’re really looking forward to kicking back for an hour with a cup of tea and recording our findings.
It’s time to awaken the fruit trees in readiness for spring with some song, dance and cider-fuelled revelry to encourage a bountiful harvest! This ancient tradition is having an unexpected revival at the moment and there are wassailing events taking place all over the country so keep an eye out for what’s happening near you. National Trust events are listed here.
Have a great week!