Autumn birds and hedgehog highways

The birds have new feathers and we've created access to the garden for hedgehogs

The robin in his new fineryThe birds have finished their moults and are looking extremely smart in their shiny new feathers. The robin especially seems positively pleased with himself, almost posturing as he comes for his wormy treats. During his moult, when his tail feathers all fell out and his head looked all mussed up, he was shy and retiring, but now he flies about with a new confidence and agility. It's a pleasure to see and to know that he can again move fast enough to get himself out of trouble. 

Out in the garden yesterday afternoon, the sparrows were gathered in the Kilmarnock willow look like and they've all got fine new coats of feathers too. They cluster amongst the tangle of upper stems in the tree, protected by the tangle of growth. There, they hop and cheep and from time to time a group will fly suddenly out to gather in a large cotoneaster that we leave unkempt just for them. 

Yesterday the sparrows were flitting back and forth from the tree to the top of the wall between us and the neighbours. Much building work is being carried out next door and it was, sadly, necessary to pull down most of the ivy growing over the wall in order to complete part of the work. The top of the wall is now exposed and, amongst the loose stones, small pools of dust and dirt have collected and it was these pools of dirt that had attracted the sparrows who were engaging in vigorous dust-bathing.

The ivy on the wall had been very thick, full of birds and insects. It provided food and shelter for so many creatures and was a wonderful habitat. It will grow again, on our side of the wall at any rate, and we'll look forward to seeing it flower once more. 

A helping hand for hedgehogs

Hedgehog Highway plaqueThe other day I came across an idea on the British Hedgehog Preservation Society's website that demanded action. It has long bothered me that there is no entrance to the garden for hedgehogs to come in. The walls are solid and the door to the garden has no gap under it, but we rent and I was wary of us simply cutting a hole in it. The BHPS suggest just that, but back it up with a sturdy plaque explaining that this isn't simply an act of destruction, but there to help hedgehogs. In bold letters are the words, 'Hedgehog Highway – please keep this hole open!'.

We took courage from those words, cut a 13cm by 13cm (6in x 6in) hole in the bottom of the door, as is suggested, and attached the plaque above it. The scruffiness of the door now stands out like a sore thumb, but it has a hedgehog doorway in it and to me it's the most important job we've done lately. There is still time for a hedgehog to find a hibernation place in the garden, but even if one just came in to take advantage of food and water I would count that a big success. 

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