Sunday, 8 August 2010


Feeling very privileged to have been watching two young great spotted woodpeckers, a family of long tailed tits and a nuthatch who usually lives in the local woods, all coming to my garden feeders today. The unexpected nuthatch visit inspired me tonight as I sit waiting for twilight to fall, when the family of hedgehogs who are now dropping by my garden each evening arrive with their noisy but captivating shenanigans...

You scramble, head down,
Holding the world mirrored
Invert under scuttling feet

Clambering, chestnut breast to bark
Smoke blue wings a caped swoop,
Aerobat, probing and melting
On a tittering tightrope

Patient bill, plastering a pinhole persistent
To fend marauder starlings away from your babies.

D-I-Y dodger, framing the woodpecker brother's old pad
For your rental, yet wholly inhabiting
Your acorn carpeted aerodrome.

Scurrying sideways, dissolving
Through the beech canopy
Skimming your liquid voice's pebble
To skip over the rippling pool of dusk

High over hedgehogs chuckling
Through beech mast and littered leaves
On their way to a festival of surreptitious snorting
Under the bone-blanched moon
And the shrill verdict of owls

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Hedgehog Hot Love

Last night in the twilight at about 9.20pm, two hedgehogs, a boar and a sow, were under the arch of berberis and Jacob's figleaf in my back garden, snuffling and snorting for England! The sow, slightly the larger and darker of the two and certainly the noisier last night, was rebuffing the male's sexual approaches.

They were nose to nose, snuffling and thrusting; the sow occasionally backed away a few steps and the boar pretended to lose interest by studying the undergrowth. Not fooling anybody! He'd be lunging and wiffling again a few seconds later. The soundtrack to all this was like a gruff sneeze on an infinite loop.

Eventually, after twenty minutes of this noisy courtship, the female withdrew to the opposite border under the lilac tree and waited coquettishly by the strawberry patch. The boar had got the message by now, though, and soon trotted off at top speed down the length of the garden, through the lavatera arch and away beyond the garden shed along the far hedge where the ash tree whispered in the deepening darkness.

Left alone, reluctant Mrs Tiggywinkle shuffled off under the hedge into the neighbour's garden and into the night. Romeo and Juliet they aren't, but practice makes perfect.

Topped off a wonderful week of wildlife which has seen new broods of Long Tailed Tits, Great Tits, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, young Great Spotted Woodpeckers (male yesterday, female visited today), Wrens, Blackbirds and Dunnocks all swarming round the feeders like humming birds on a mission!

Photos: Top is from the London Wildlife site (c) Richard Burkmar and bottom photo is from the site with thanks!