On Saturday we were treated to a rare sight Grass Snakes emerging from hibernation to breed,the pregnant females will lay their eggs in surrounding compost heaps in late May or June, don’t worry if you are scared of snakes as we have provided plenty of nesting places on the pond site.
Yesterday spring had finally arrived on the wildlife plot, we had thought rabbits had eaten our early wildflowers but it seems they were just waiting for a little warmth and sunshine. I am especially pleased to see the Snakes Head Frittlaries among the long grass . Any one is welcome to visit the plot but please mind where you tread.
Has anyone noticed the pair of Kestrels that are hovering over the allotments this week, I managed to get one quick photo from a distance whilst strimming the paths on Tuesday. I placed a nest box in our Walnut tree two years ago and the female was showing interest in it but I think a pair of squirrels have taken up residence already. On a sadder note our little blind Hedgehog died over the weekend.
As I was leaving the wildlife garden yesterday I noticed a little brown ball in the grass,it was still broad daylight and I was surprised to discover another Hedgehog out at this time of day. It was busy searching for food after hibernation and did not seem perturbed by my presence, it was only when I moved wind side he stopped and began sniffing the air and remained totally motionless until I quietly moved to his other side. It became evident that he had an extremely keen sense of smell ,I had some meal worms on me so realizing he must be hungry I dropped a few in front of him. Meal worms would be a new smell for a wild Hedgehog and he passed them by, he did not recognize their scent as being a natural food but I thought he must have seen them, it was only on closer inspection I noticed he had no eyes at all. When Barry Adams first found our other Hedgehog Nelson, he had to clear both his eyes of parasites and one eye stayed closed for a few days hence the name Nelson. We bathed his eye with warm water and cotton-buds and fed him from a syringe and he made a total recovery. Unfortunately our new little friend has lived at least a year in the wild with no eyesight but has adapted well, I will keep him at home for while until we can get his weight up and then release him back on to our wildlife area, which I am in the process of fencing to keep rabbits out but it seems now to keep orphan Hedgehogs in.
Remember our little orphan hedgehog found on Barry the Bee’s plot named Nelson as he was blind in one eye. He finally emerged from hibernation yesterday after going to sleep at the end of October last year, that’s nearly six months. Hedgehogs normally emerge in March but this years unusually cold spring has prevented them from waking up.
Anyone who works a plot at Tredegar will have noticed a little Robin in close proximity waiting for any disturbance of the soil for a free meal. In the past three years the Robins have come to regard me as part of the wildlife and see me as no threat, I spent nearly every day last winter and spring observing a family of Foxes from a hide . I often found myself sharing the hide with at least one Robin and as many as four when the young birds left the nest.
I have placed over twenty nest boxes around the allotments over the three years, two especially for Robins and last spring a pair nested in the one beside my shed and raised two broods, one of four chicks and the second of three. The parent birds actually trusted me enough to feed them meal worms on the nest, this was an amazing experience and has resulted in many birds following me around the allotments knowing I always have a supply of meal worms in pocket. I have placed an additional three nest boxes around the allotments this winter and have already noticed Robins investigating them. They are very territorial and aggressive to each other even if related so all the boxes have been placed well apart, in all I estimate there are about eight Robins on the site, two have stayed as a pair since last summer I think these are the parent birds of last year as they do tolerate one other bird which I think was one of their young.
These are the two birds that follow me home and wait at my window to be fed in the morning, towards the end of spring last year two male Blackbirds began to cotton on to my supply of food and to feed from my hand,one turns up at my back door and will come in to the conservatory if the door is open.
February 1st, anyone visiting Tredegar this weekend make sure you take your wellies,the car park area is a series of large puddles not helped by someones noble attempt to create a walkway with wood chips but this has only created a dam preventing drain off into the grass area this will have to be cleared when I have a couple of hours. As you can see by the photos most plots were water logged today but the site has very good drainage due to its height above the railway lines. Bulbs are sprouting and on the pond site dwarf Iris’s are in bloom that is the earliest in 3 years of planting. The mild weather is helping the wildlife I followed a Green woodpecker around the plots it was finding plenty of food as it mainly feeds on the ground despite its name, I have been trying to get a good photo for a long time but it is a very cautious bird and you really need a hide, hence the poor photo. The other woodpecker on the site the Great spotted has taken offence at his carved image an pecked it’s beak off as the photo shows.
They come so early the camera has to use flash