Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Birds, Hedgehogs and a Newt

What a miserable morning yesterday. Just started to rain as we got back from the morning walk and it continued until just after midday. Not heavy rain, just enough to gently water the garden. It needed it as large cracks were appearing in some areas. Once the rain had stopped I set about changing the camera I had used to observe the Hedgehogs. After a bit of experimenting I ended up using a black an white one with built in infra red lighting. The cover says colour but the camera is b/w. Also I took the opportunity to mount it closer to the place where the Hedgehogs have been appearing.

Video Camera

If you want to see the results then read on or scroll down.

In the garden the birds have been grabbing food as though it is going out of fashion. Several times I have seen blackbirds with beaks filled with grubs. Often they will put the whole lot down while they get another tasty morsel and then pick all the originals up again.

How many grubs can you get in one beak - there are still a couple to pick up.


It is not often I see both Blue Tits at the same feeder. Here the one at the back is holding a Sunflower heart with both feet and pecking pieces off.

Blue Tits

As usual the Starlings cause mayhem continually barging in. Here a couple are changing over.

Starlings - My Turn

Another has decided it is bath time. Yes - that is my nursery pond but who am I to argue with a determined Starling. BTW I was right about the Frog Spawn. It was not viable and not one started to develop. Oh well, better luck next year.

Starling Bath Time

Nobody can convince me that House Sparrow numbers are decreasing but why, with a large area of lawn to choose from, so many feed in such a small space I'll never know. There were more out of shot.

House Sparrows

In the pond the Common Newts continue to make an appearance from time to time. The best time seems to be around midday.

Common Newt

Finally back to the Hedgehogs. For a while I thought there would be no appearance last night but suddenly two appeared together. At first they seemed to be feeding quite happily together but before too long a Hedgehog jousting match started. It was all one sided as the larger hog kept pushing the smaller one away from the food. The small one was not to be put off though and kept returning. This went on for well over fifteen minutes. In fact it only stopped when I went out to take a couple of still photos.



This time I managed to get a face. After a couple of shots the little hog ran off and the large one disappeared soon after that. Hopefully here is a piece of video. This is the first time I have used YouTube as Flickr have a limit of 90 seconds for video files. I can't work out whether the smaller hog is younger or appears so much thinner because the larger one stops it from eating. In that case why do they appear together? A bit of a puzzle at the moment.

This morning I have moved the camera even closer so it is now about 3 to 4 ft away. I want to see what these two are really up to.


  1. A very varied and interesting post John. The Blackbird could have done with a shopping bag to put all that food in! :-D The Starlings have been coming into my garden in gangs lately and swiftly devouring all the fat-balls and fat-cakes which I was hoping might attract the LTTs back, as I haven't seen them lately. I definitely don't see many Sparrows in the garden any more whereas they used to be the most common visitor. It is quite an event when one does appear!

    I wonder if the hedgehogs will continue to visit together, it sounds like a very uneasy alliance! A nice piece of video also.

  2. Thanks Jan: Where the Starlings used to visit three times a day they are now continuous so I guess there are lots of nestlings. It will be even worse for a while when they arrive as well. It was last year.

    I think we have nearly all lost the LTTs in the garden for a while by what others have said.

    I wonder if the smaller hog is one of last years brood which won't let go of the apron strings?

  3. We've had an influx of House Sparrows over the last few weeks, I'm sure the same thing happened last year.

    That's another great video of the hedgehogs.

  4. Fascinating video clip John. Quite the local bully by the looks of things ;)
    Lovely clear shot of the Newt, and the Sparrows in line looks comical.
    Good post.

  5. Good work on the hedgehog study. We seem to have our usual numbers of House Sparrows too. They are nesting above our bedroom and from the beakloads of material going in I reckon we must be sleeping under a hay loft.

  6. Great photos - I especially like the bird with all those grubs in its beak. You have a very interesting variety of wildlife coming to you garden. Very nice!

  7. Thanks Paul. I got worried when most of the Sparrows vanished late Winter / early Spring but now they seem as numerous as ever. I wonder where they overwinter.

    Thanks Keith: I won't be happy until the pics are as clear as those on Springwatch :) The Sun was just right for the Newt that day and it was hovering about an inch below the surface. Fascinating the way they do that.

    Thanks Rob: The Sparrows also nest above the living room and bedroom here.

    Thanks Mick: The variety seems to be building nicely or maybe my returned interest in photography has made me more observant.

  8. It always fascinates me how the Blue Tits manage to hold the seed under their feet and peck at it. I used to think it was to break it down for youngsters, but I've seen it at different times in the year. Equally how do blackbirds get more and more in their beaks without losing anything!

    Fascinating behaviour of the Hedgehogs. I don't know anything about them, but could it be a parent deciding it was time for a youngster to go?

    Lovely to have all those House Sparrows - can't remember the last time I saw one in my garden though.

  9. Hi Tricia: Last year I took a photo of a juvenile Great Tit holding a piece of peanut so they must learn the behaviour early in life. As you say, fascinating.

    I had begun to wonder whether the smaller hedgehog was the young one I filmed last Summer still hanging on to mums apron strings.

    I wonder why House Sparrows are so rare now in some areas. Lack of hedges? More heat tight and secure roof spaces?


Thank you for visiting. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Any comment, or correction to any information or identification I get wrong, is most welcome. John

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