Hedgehog footprint

The original intention had been to look for early signs of Autumn and to monitor the ‘harvest’ and how it might be affecting wildlife.  But the weather has been so mild that few trees gave any sign of relinquishing their leaves. And today was a gloriously bright, sunny and eventually quite warm day.  So rather than wait until we had finished our walk we decided to go to the back of the bee corner and investigate John’s footprint tunnels, which turned out to be a very good decision.

In the couple of months or so that John has had his tunnels in place we have discovered that this exercise isn’t quite as easy as it seems on the BBC.  Yes, you get footprints, but the more activity there is the more jumbled up they become, which doesn’t make identifying them that easy.  And the results today didn’t look any more promising than before especially as on one of the sheets they were all to one side.  So whilst John and Jan were examining these the rest of us started to look around to see what was happening elsewhere.  By now the sun was starting to warm everything up, and we heard Robins, Nuthatch and Blackbirds singing.  And on the masses of Ivy blossom along the back wall were dozens of insects.  At first sight these were mainly Hoverflies, but as it got warmer several Red Admiral butterflies appeared, then Tortoiseshells and a couple of Specked Woods dancing together before disappearing into the vegetation.

In the meantime a certain amount of excitement had been developing over the footprint paper as, for the first time we seemed to have definite evidence of a Hedgehog.  Only the one print and probably a small animal, but distinct and definitely different from the others. We hope to follow this up by getting a photo from my nighttime camera.

Along the bank below the ivy there are quite a few stones, hiding places for all sorts of creatures and underneath one of these Michael found a Newt – almost certainly the Palmate as the Common is rare in this area, but a little young to be definite and almost certainly from the Japanese Garden pond.

On to the Bee corner – 5 hives active but the whole area is rather shaded at this time of year so they don’t get the benefit of this lovely late Autumn sunshine. Then into the meadow below the Ice House where Jan examined some droppings.  They were rather large for Rabbits and she thought they might be Fallow deer.  Their droppings are bullet-shaped at one end with a dent at the other. We were also rather intrigued by the greening on the bales of rough silage which had appeared.  Closer inspection revealed that the grasses were already growing, not to mention the odd fungus, which was being eaten by a slug.  Then a real treat for everyone, especially Joan.  A Small Copper Butterfly zooming around and, just as Joan was writing it down in her notebook, it obligingly alighted on that for long enough for John to get this photo.

On then in an attempt to see whether there were any signs of Otter activity near the gatehouse and behind where the polytunnels had been.  In the process Keith discovered an Otter trail which we followed, but there were no other signs like Otter poo and the stone where it had originally been deposited back in February was now completely covered.

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.

Thanks  to John for the photos and if any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please  send an email to Colin Miles  – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested.   If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Walk blogs

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