Posts Tagged ‘Hedgehog’

A stirring thought from Hugh during his talk at Wilderness Festival: one of our Meet the Species feature events

To see more of Hugh, please visit his website or follow him on Twitter


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Since many mammals are most active at night, we often have a difficult task in finding them. One of the best ways to find out if you have mammals on your patch is to track them and Gill Brown knows how to make finding those tracks a little bit easier as she demonstrated to this group at Bristol BioBlitz: one of our Meet the Species feature events.

And here are some hedgehog footprints from our trip to Wilderness Festival to prove it works!

Hedgehog tracks from our time at Wilderness Festival: one of our Meet the Species feature events

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With great thanks to The Wildlife Garden Project for this video! For more videos and information on how you can help wildlife in your garden, visit www.wildlifegardenproject.com

Film made by Laura Turner

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Why did the hedgehog cross the road? Well, sorry to ruin the fun but for many reasons, and we want to make sure they’re safe doing so. We talk to Richard Wembridge from People’s Trust for Endangered Species about what we can do to help hedgehogs and more about PTES’s project, Hedgehog Street!

The hedgehog is one of our most charismatic and popular native mammals, but in 2007 it was assigned the status of a ‘priority species’ for conservation in the UK and there is strong evidence that its numbers are declining alarmingly.

The first real indication of a decline came from our Mammals on Roads survey, an annual count of hedgehogs and other species along road journeys. This, together with records from other surveys, such as our Living with Mammals and the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch and Breeding Bird Survey, suggest hedgehog numbers may have fallen by a quarter in only the last ten years.

In response, PTES and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) set up Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign to get people involved in hedgehog conservation. Since last spring, over 20,500 volunteers have signed up to become ‘Hedgehog Champions’ and received or downloaded an information pack to inspire and recruit people in their neighbourhood.

In urban and suburban areas, changes in the way gardens are managed can affect how well hedgehog populations fare. Where garden boundaries are impermeable to wandering hedgehogs, and roads become busier, populations can become isolated and unsustainable. Gardeners who are too tidy or who tarmac their land deplete foraging, nesting and hibernation opportunities.

Stephen Heliczer (c) 2012

More widely, the causes of the hedgehog’s problems are complex and not fully understood. More research is needed, particularly in rural settings. PTES and BHPS are funding work at WildCRU, University of Oxford, in which radio-tracking will help show how hedgehogs use arable farmland in Oxfordshire. The findings will be invaluable in guiding future conservation.

So, what has Hedgehog Street achieved? Over 2,500 Hedgehog Champions told us what they’ve been up to. Over 50 per cent have involved at least one neighbour in the project, making a total of 4,699 neighbours in 3,677 households attached to about 293 hectares of land – 33 times the infield area of the London 2012 Olympic stadium. So far our Champions have created 2660 new hibernation sites, 5064 natural feeding areas, removed 3,404 hazards and linked 4,823 gardens.

These figures represent tangible benefits for hedgehogs, and for other species, and might just ensure that hedgehogs remain a wild denizen of our gardens and urban spaces.

Nigel Kingwill (c) 2012

To take part in Mammals on Roads survey or for information about Hedgehog Street champion, visit the PTES website (www.ptes.org) or email enquires@ptes.org.

About PTES

In the UK, 90 per cent of water voles and 75 per cent of hazel dormice have been lost in recent years. Overseas, turtles are regularly caught and killed in fishing gear, lions are illegally shot and the seahorse population in south East Asia has halved. People’s Trust for Endangered Species has been working tirelessly to save endangered species within their habitats for 35 years. We support practical conservation work and research worldwide with a special focus on British wildlife. This is made possible by donations from our supporters and grants from charitable organisations, as we receive no core funding from the government. For more information about our charity, please visit our website www.ptes.org.

 With many thanks to David Wembridge & PTES for their great contribution!

Click here to follow PTES on Facebook & Twitter.

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Hugh Warwick



I have been studying our only prickly mammal over the last 25 years. Initially I was working as an ecologist, looking at how they behaved, but the more time I spent with them in their nocturnal world, the more I realised that these charismatic beasts were actually rather special.

I helped stop the cull of hedgehogs up in the Outer Hebrides (they were accused of eating eggs of ground-nesting birds) – proving that they could moved to the mainland without the sorts of problems that the authorities imagined. And through this I began to work more closely with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk) and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (http://www.ptes.org)

Hugh meets a hedgehog pal

We were all getting worried about hedgehogs. The population seemed to be in decline from all the surveys we had run, so we handed all the data we had over to the statisticians at the British Trust for Ornithology and they gave us a dramatic answer. Conservatively the number of hedgehogs in Britain has fallen 25% in the last 10 years alone. And the fall before that is likely to have been as dramatic, but we did not have the data.

One of the main problems is habitat fragmentation – the splitting up of good hedgehog habitat into smaller pieces with roads, industrial farming, housing and even changes in gardens. With this in mind we launched Hedgehog Street (http://www.hedgehogstreet.org) and have already recruited nearly 23,000 households to the cause. You can see it on Countryfile this Sunday (BBC 1, 1930) – and learn how to make your garden more hedgehog friendly, and, most importantly realise that however hedgehog friendly it is, it is useless unless hedgehogs can get in! So, get talking to your neighbours about making holes in the fence!

Why should we care so much? Well, as I mentioned at the beginning, they are a very important species. We could just look at their diet of macro-invertebrates – things like slugs and snails – to see how great they are to have in the garden. We could also consider that they are yet another piece of the great web of life. Imagine your favourite jumper – it can cope with a few moth holes, but there comes a time when a hole appears in just the wrong place and everything begins to unravel; well, that is like the ecosystem. And we can never know which is the crucial piece of the puzzle.

But that is not why I think they are so important. Hedgehogs give us a chance to see a really wild animal at close quarters. There are very few other beasts out there with which we can get so close – I have been nose-to-nose with a hedgehog, looking into its beady, bright eyes. I first did it with a hedgehog called Nigel. As it happened it dawned on me that the large conservation and wildlife charities have got it wrong. We are not going to be seduced into loving the natural world through the charismatic mega fauna, the lions and whales. That is like assuming we will form meaningful relationships with the people pictured in Heat or Hello magazines.

The Big Issue- Hugh talks hedgehogs

We are going to fall in love with the girl or the boy next door – not an A-List member of the charismatic mega-fauna of celebrity. And the hedgehog is the animal equivalent. We actually have a chance to get close to and understand a little about the hedgehog. So, if you meet one, get down on your tummy, get nose-to-nose and look for the glint of wild in its eyes. And then, just possibly, you will be seduced into really falling in love with the world around you.

Hugh Warwick is the author of A Prickly Affair and, most recently, The Beauty in the Beast. He also maintains an active and eccentric blog: http://www.urchin.info

Thank you Hugh Warwick for all of your great contributions and continued support! You can follow Hugh on twitter @hedgehoghugh

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Yesterday we got scaley and slippery with reptiles and amphibians with Dr ‘Rhys to the Rescue’ Jones delivering his beautiful Grass Snake story, Discovering Dragons with FrogLife and learning how to swab a toad….and why with ARG-UK and the Zoological Society of London.

Today with swith scales for fur as we explore the mysterious world of mammals.

Day 11 – Super Furries – Mammals

We’re almost at the finishing line, and today it’s all about our furry friends the mammals. Much loved but sometimes hard to spot, mammals are increasingly under threat so this survey is important for their future. All but 2 species have been ticked off our list, but if you live in the right area we’d love to know if you’ve found a red squirrel or harvest mouse!

Red Squirrel – photo courtesy Alastair Rae

Hugh Warwick is a self-confessed hedgehog lover, as well as an ecologist and writer, and would (and frequently does) argue that they are the most important creatures on the planet – see what he has to say…

Hedgehog – photo courtesy Xwiz

Many mammals share our increasingly urban lifestyle – including foxes, badgers and bats, and you can help make your garden that bit more mammal friendly by helping out Hugh’s spiny favourite, or even get your whole street involved by joining Hedgehog Street!

If you’re not lucky enough to see the mammal itself you may get good at spotting its tracks, or a wisp of hair on a fence or a slight mammaly smell in the air!

We think this is a Daubentons Bat but not certain – tweet us your suggestions! @meetthespecies – photo courtesy Hilary Chambers

This weekend happens to be International Bat Weekend and we’ll be joined by Bat Conservation Trust to celebrate these amazing flying mammals and take a look back at our Batty activities.

So follow the race here and…

  • Hear all about Hugh Warwick’s passion for hedgehogs
  • Join the Avon Bat Group on a graveyard Bat Walk
  • Get tracking and learn some tricks of the trade
  • See some amazing camera trap footage of UK mammals
  • Make your garden hog friendly and join the Hedgehog Street movement
  • Discover which species we’re still looking for
  • Get more info on the amazing mammals on the list
  • Find out about iSpot and how to record your all-important finds

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On Thursday the 9th of August, we were back in the van and on the road again, on our way to Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire for it’s second year of fun and frolicks.. As we pulled up past the grand 19th century house we spotted our first species and a stunning one at that…. Peacocks! This certainly set the weekend off to a good start.

Wilderness by Jenny Garrett

Wilderness by Jenny Garrett

Wilderness is a small and unique affair to say the least! Costumes, masks and face paints are a relentless theme. Around every corner are secret venues, mock Olympic competitions and spontaneous flash mobs… at this festival having your wits, creative appreciation and sense of humour about you at all times is a must! The festival is situated at the heart of a large estate, complete with deer park, mystical woodland, grand house with gardens, boating & swimming lakes and many other beautiful features. Having attended the festival last year (2011), we knew the site was a greatly diverse area for wildlife but we’d forgotten the astonishing beauty of the place.



We set up the stall under the shade of a large oak tree (possibly 300+ years old) and had a quick wonder around the site. It was an early rise on Friday morning to start our Wilderness species count. We were quickly joined by Richard, our resident bug expert for the weekend. Little did we know that Richard is an all-round nature & wildlife tycoon, spilling an endless plethora of knowledge on all things natural. What a champion! Richard led walks throughout the weekend, set his own moth traps, and was always on guard to answer both adult’s and children’s inquisitive who, what, where, when, why and hows!



We were also joined by Nick and Mary, who took walks and hosted the arts and crafts section of our stall. Our meadow board was a popular feature, just as it was at our previous events. Children came in mass to colour in insects, birds, flowers, butterflies etc. and stick them to our colourful collage. The saw and hand drill made a 2nd appearance of the summer, with the return of our wood chip necklaces, which went down a chipper treat (oh yes I did)! Nick lead some nature walks over the weekend, as did Martin who brought with him his enthusiastic son Dominic in addition to some expert equipment, including a bug sucking machine which is a great way of collecting smaller bugs without harming them. The machine is basically a hoover with a net inside which prevents the bugs being sucked up completely. You can empty the net into a tray and have a good old peek at what you’ve caught. A brilliant tool, if not slightly noisy for the peaceful festival goers!

Pond Dippers

Pond Dippers

Perhaps the best thing over the weekend was the use of the lakes for our Pond Dipping walk. Adults and kids turned up in their droves, to find out what really lurks beneath the surface of the lakes they’d been swimming in just hours before! As we made our way down to the boating lake through the festival, our quirky procession carrying fishing nets, tanks and butterfly nets was something of a spectacle! Good for us though as the further we wondered the more people would tag along with intrigue! We gathered at the shallow end of the lake and got dipping! We found all sorts of small creatures such as pond shrimp, damson nymphs, water skaters, blood-sucking worms, pond snails, whilst having overhead visits from plenty of butterflies, moths and dragonflies. The scenery was as stunning and diverse as some of our finds!

Dominic Pond Dipping

Dominic Pond Dipping

We were able to add red deer to the list as the festival is situated in the close proximity to a deer park, but we drew the line at the camels that were brought in for rides! We topped the weekend with a soaring total of 265+ species, with special thanks to both Mark and David our guest Lichen experts, who tallied a highly ‘likable’ figure of Lichen during their visit on Saturday. To top it off we had a very special guest, Hugh Warwick join us to tell us some amazing things about hedgehogs! (Look out for more from Hugh during our 12 day finale starting 22nd August).

Hugh Warwick

Back to reality and rain on the windows (we can’t complain, we were treated with glorious summer sunshine at both Womad and Wilderness!), we are full steam ahead on our plans for the Meet the Species finale which starts in just 6 DAYS!! Our schedule is choc-a-block with exciting, cool, fun and fascinating content for you to feast your eyes on… Don’t forget to set the alarms for 9am on Wednesday 22nd August because that’s when our grand finale begins! See you there (here)!

Wild Flowers at Wilderness

Wild Flowers at Wilderness

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