Coronavirus Garden Safari

As the UK ends the second week of lockdown in an attempt to limit the spread of the coranavirus, Covid-19, I count myself fortunate to have a garden. Spring has sprung and the increased warmth from the sun has induced flowers to open and insects to wake. Beautiful butterflies such as this peacock can be found sunning themselves.

Fluffy bee-flies with their improbably long proboscises are buzzing around.

The fabulously named hairy footed flower bees are flower bothering.

Bees are getting busy.

The birds too are busy building their nests, take care when trimming hedges. This pair of jackdaws have no need to keep to the 2m social distancing rules.

The blackbirds are stocking up on supplemental food such as the cat biscuits left over from the hedgehogs’ supper.

Fresh water is important for all of our garden wildlife such as birds and squirrels. A shallow dish on the ground for hedgehogs.

For the night owls there are owls.photo of tawny owl in tree

Also hedgehogs. Why not make a hedgehog feeder, create a gap in your fence and hope for some prickly visitors.hedgehog on lawn

Maybe even a bat or two.2 bats

Try to look out for flowers and wildlife in your garden or on your daily walk. Use the lockdown as an opportunity to learn new skills, stay in touch with loved ones, reconnect with old friends. Photo of buddleia over underpass

For more information on Covid-19 visit the NHS website. Stay home, keep 2m apart when out, wash your hands; these measures will hopefully protect the NHS from being overwhelmed, and protect vulnerable people from a killer disease. If you are one of those strange people who doesn’t care about the old and the sick dying don’t forget this kills young healthy people too, including valuable NHS workers. Let’s hope our new found admiration for “low skilled” low paid workers such as carers, shop workers and delivery drivers lasts. Take care of yourselves and others. With kindness and cooperation we will get through this.path through sand dunes

December Gallery Added

Well I did it. I have completed my personal photographic record of 2016 and added the December gallery to my page 366 Days- 2016 in Photographs.Photo of rime frosted seed head

Typically I chose a year when, for various reasons, I barely set foot out of my own garden. However, putting on my rose tinted specs, it might be interesting to see how the same old scenes changed throughout the year; no doubt the subject of some forthcoming blog posts. I had hoped that this project would improve my photography, but I haven’t really had the time to put the effort into it. It has perhaps changed my mindset so that I now look for a picture, even in everyday mundane things.Photo of sunrise

This year I shall now only do a blog post if I have a photo or some information that I feel is worth sharing. I hope it won’t be too infrequent! I would like to thank you all for being so kind and supportive of my efforts. I look forward to your blog posts in 2017.Photo of happy new year written in sparklers

#CharityChristmas5 No. 3

I thought number three should be devoted to those selfless people who protect and care for our native wildlife. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a penchant for hedgehogs. These endearing little critters have been voted, yet again, the UK’s favourite mammal; yet their numbers are crashing alarmingly.Photo of hedgehog in Santa hat

Thankfully there seems to be an increasing awareness of the problems facing hedgehogs and a willingness by the public to help them out. The flip side of this is that the hedgehog rescues are being inundated with poorly, injured or underweight hedgehogs. These good people are often self-funded and devote so much of their time. The stand out hedgehog rescue for me personally is Oggles. Vicky who dedicates her life to caring for these precious balls of spikiness suffers from a lot of health problems, but always puts her hogs first. She is fortunate to have a lovely lady who runs Facebook and Twitter (@OgglesHoggyQuiz) accounts on her behalf to raise much needed funds. Vicky’s dream is to have a dedicated “hogspital” to care for her charges and to be able to teach others her skills. Please do take a look at the website and help in any way that you feel able.Photo of hedgehog in dish

Other hedgehog rescues have found their own ways of raising funds to pay for the very expensive care these hedgehogs need. As well as food, the hogs often need medicines and veterinary treatment and we all know how those bills can mount up. Having looked after two hedgehogs for one night and then a third hog for two nights I have an inkling of how much work they take just to keep them clean and tidy. However, these hedgehog carers have to find the time to raise their funds; Little Silver Hedgehog makes lovely jewellery, Leicester Hedgehogs makes figurines and Wildlife Orphans puts together charming videos outlining the stories of the hedgehogs she helps as well as providing a wealth of information. Photo of hedgehog

As well as the rescues there are dedicated folk who give of their time and money to foster or care for hedgehogs, taking some of the strain from the rescues who can then concentrate on the sickest animals. Twitter users can use the hashtag #pricklypals to find a group of lovely people always willing to offer support and advice as well as sharing stories and pictures of their charges. Daisy the 8 year old daughter of hedgehog carer @EmmDonald not only provides a top notch maid service for their resident hogs, but she has also raised a stunning £130 for her local rescue, Poppies Creche. Daisy designed this fabulous logo and created keyrings and other merchandise to sell.Photo of Daisy's Help the Hedgehogs Poster

Equally importantly Daisy is raising awareness of the plight of hedgehogs and what can be done to help them and has even appeared on BBC Newsround. She is a real hedgehog champion. It is behoven upon us to protect our environment and wildlife for future generations, we have a duty to be responsible custodians.

Photo of Daisy holding hedgehog

Daisy and B&B resident, Frankie – image courtesy @EmmDonald

It is well worth finding the details of your local wildlife rescues and having their contact details to hand, you never know when and where you might encounter some wildlife in need of assistance. You can also find information on how to donate, their Amazon wishlists or any other way that you might help with time or skills.Photo of rescued hedgehogs

Another member of our beleagured wildlife is the much persecuted badger. The Badger Trust provides a wealth of information and assists smaller local groups. It is well worth taking a look at their website as a starting point if you wish to help badgers. There are also bTB vaccination programmes going on to counter the unscientific badger cull.

Photo of painting of badgers by Thorburn

The Badger by Archibald Thorburn 1918

Perhaps the biggest pressure our native wildlife faces is habitat loss. By supporting conservation charities such as the Woodland Trust you are helping a wide range of animals from birds to bees. For a more hands on approach you can probably find a local conservation group that you could volunteer your time with. This will have the added bonus of fresh air, exercise, good company and gaining new skills and knowledge. An example would be Mike’s volunteering days at Wilden Marsh. Photo of Credenhill Wood

I am sure that you will be able to find some way to help nature this Christmas and beyond.

Young Hedgehog and a Photo Competition

As regular readers are aware, my “relaxed” gardening style seems to have provided a favourable habitat for the UK’s best loved, but declining wild mammal – the hedgehog.Photo of hedgehog

I am pleased to announce that the resident hogs seem to have produced and raised at least one hoglet successfully. I bumped into this wee critter in the early hours of the morning. After casting me a shy glance it went and had a drink. It is very important to put out shallow dishes of water day and night for our local birds and critters, especially during this hot weather.Photo of young hedgehog

I also thought you might be interested in a fun little photographic competition. It is to raise money for Oggles Hedgehog Rescue. The suggested minimum donation is £2 per photo on the theme of “Nature that makes you smile”, there are different age groups so do encourage any young up and coming nature fans/photographers. The full details are on this site here. Hedgehogs are notoriously hapless animals so they really need for us, especially gardeners, to “think hog” and be careful with netting, ponds and when using garden machinery. Small local rescues rely on donations and are always busy, so please help them if you can.Photo of two hedgehogs

Garden Bioblitz 2015

This coming weekend, 30th – 31st May will be the 2015 Garden Bioblitz in the UK.Photo of white dog violets

Anyone with a garden, which could include a window box, is invited to spend 24 hours scratting about under leaves and twigs, clambering through the bushes and nosing about in crevices. The idea is to identify and record the wild plants and animals that find a home in our gardens. For more information please see their website here: National Garden Bioblitz.

Happy hunting!