The Garden Diary 2007

August (Part 1)


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11 August - Sorry for this rather slow start to the month's diary! I'm afraid that I've been having a bit of a battle with the Chronic Fatigue and it has been getting the upper hand over this last week or so. It hasn't helped that I'm trying to get on with the job I started in our bedroom - we will be calling in reinforcements to complete that task! And it is for the same reason that I've not been keeping up with the House Martin Diary - at least the webcam is functioning!

I've hardly picked up a camera since August began, but I've been prompted to get this diary entry done by the activity outside tonight. Back at the beginning of July I recorded a hedgehog busily collecting bedding for her nest under our metal shed. Well, a week ago, when I walked out into the garden after dark I nearly tripped over a couple of fist-sized baby hedgehogs.

Baby Hedgehog, photographed at 6.30pm, 6 August

The next day (6th) I grabbed this picture of one of them foraging in the undergrowth below the Birch at around 6.30pm.

Over the next four days I got to see one out at various times throughout the day, and was able to confirm that they returned to the nest under the shed.

While have had hedgehogs visiting the garden all the time we have lived here (since 1975),this is the first time we have had a female give birth here - absolutely brilliant!

Pair of Baby Hedgehogs, photographed at 10pm

I didn't see any during daylight hours today, but tonight at just before 10pm there were three youngsters foraging under the Hawthorn and below the bird feeders.

This pair spent several minutes feeding together. One then came up onto the veranda, searching out snippets of Sunflower kernels that had been scattered by the Goldfinches. Eventually it wandered over to where I was sitting and started to examine my toes - It's hard to keep still when a hedgehog decides to test whether your toe would make a good meal!


Mother and baby hedgehog, photographed at 10pmFinally, after two of the youngsters disappeared off down the garden, mum turned up. I waited to see if I could get a picture of her next to the remaining juvenile, but this was the nearest that they came before mum headed away again.

Even with the two a few feet apart it is clear to see the size difference. The stepping stone between the hedgehogs measures about 1ft (30cm) across.


Now that I've got this part of the diary going again, I now need to do some catching up with the House Martin diary, but not until tomorrow.....


13 August - A day when cloud and a few spots of rain gave way to clear skies as darkness fell, in time to look skywards in the hope of seeing the Perseid meteor shower.

My neighbours on the north side of us were having a birthday party outside, so I'm afraid that there was a lot of light to compete with last night. That was unfortunate as the sky was the clearest that I have seen it here for a long time. I could even see (just about) the Milky way, which is unusual from here these days.

Meteor at 12.34amI set up my camera and over the next three hours took a series of long exposure photographs. During that time I saw some 24 meteors, most were quite dim, but a few, like this one were really bright.

The camera was facing south for this shot over the top of the Hawthorn, and the 2 minute exposure has resulted in the stars appearing as short lines.

In the group of three stars just over half way up the right of the image, the brightest is Altair, one of the brightest stars in the whole sky. The group is part of the constellation of Aquila. The smaller star group above and slightly left of Altair is the constellation of Delphinus.

Capturing images of meteors is a real hit or miss business. I took 72 photographs and only recorded three meteors - the other two being very feint.

There's no chance of another set of photographs tonight - while neighbouring gardens are dark, there is a lot of high level cloud. Perhaps I should be trying to photograph the bats and (I think) Old Lady Moths that I can see flying over the garden - a challenge for another night.

I had a hedgehog investigate my toes again last night, but although the three youngsters were about, they didn't get together at all for a photograph. While my camera was pointed skywards, there were the sounds of hedgehog courtship from under the Hawthorn, and also the call of a toad from somewhere around the small pond. I didn't try to find it as I didn't want to disturb the hedgehogs. For much of the time I was outside I could hear distant fox calls/barking.


Mother Hedgehog eating sunflower kernels - photographed at 9.30am14 August - A thoroughly miserably, dull and wet day. The rain, although not heavy, hasn't stopped all day and it is still wet outside tonight as the young hedgehogs come to feed by the house.

Their mum came for a snack of discarded sunflower kernels this morning, at around 9.30am.

The seedlings seen in this picture and the previous hedgehog images are developing from Niger (thistle) seeds. After ignoring the Niger feeder for several months the Goldfinches have started visiting it again over the last week or so.

The seedlings do not get much beyond this early stage, and I usually end up hoeing them into the ground.


15 August - A day of sunshine, showers and gusty winds while I spent more time doing some more work in our bedroom. This afternoon we popped out for a while to search for suitable furniture and ended up with a very nice Victorian chest of drawers.

Back in the garden, there was a Sparrowhawk visit this afternoon, the second attack that I've seen so far this week, and mother hedgehog made an early evening appearance (around 7.30pm) under the bird feeders.


19 August - The bedroom task has become a real marathon, but it is beginning to make headway at last. Today, after stripping the last of the paintwork I managed to start putting paint on again, and we are looking forward to the walls and ceiling being papered for us in a few days time. I still have more to do before them, but I should have more time for the Martins and the garden (if the weather improves!).

Another spell of miserable weather over the last two days - completely overcast, drizzling nearly all the time and with highs of 17C yesterday and 16C today.

A couple of interesting observations from today - first, while the Goldfinch family group has been coming since the end of July, this afternoon we watched from the bedroom window as one youngster begged for food. The young birds have been happily taking food from the feeders, so is this a member of a late brood?

Next, early this evening I needed to go down to the shed at the bottom of the garden (the shed with the hedgehog house under it) and on the way I spotted the mother hedgehog stationary on the path with one hind leg held in the air. I stopped to watch, and realised that one of her offspring was with her. Although it was hidden behind her I'm certain its mother was suckling it. Would that happen this long after they have started search for food for themselves? A couple of minutes later I saw mum again, this time with two of the youngsters following very closely in single file. I didn't get to the shed, deciding to avoid disturbing the family.


20 August - Another bit of painting done, carpet fitting organised for Friday, a wardrobe to arrive on Saturday (and perhaps another bit if things go smoothly), and then time to pause for a few hours.

It's been another cold day, not even reaching 15C, but it has stayed mainly dry, allowing me to get out into the garden for a short time.

 Despite the miserable weather we've been having, the Orange Ladybirds have managed to produce offspring, I found larvae and nymphs this afternoon, but no adults - I shall have to check again tomorrow.

Later on I spotted a larva on Sheila's purple top. How it got there is a bit of a puzzle as she hadn't been down the garden. It is now on the Birch with all the others.


After failing to appear earlier in the summer, we actually have a Ragwort plant in flower (the whole plant is only just over a foot high!), and it's too cold for any of the solitary bee to be interested in it. I must remember to take a photograph of it tomorrow.

The colder weather must have discouraged the hedgehogs from coming out during the day and there was no repeat of yesterday's activity.

It was 8.10pm before the first youngster appeared. The second emerged from under the shed at 8.35pm, followed by the third a few minutes later. Mum did not appear until 8.50pm. As soon as it emerged, each hedgehog had a good scratch before heading off into the garden. It took the first youngster about five minutes to make its way to the bird feeders..

I'm writing this at nearly 11.30pm and so far none of the family have returned to the nest. I'm going to record through the night to see when they do decide to head back home.


22 August - While I understand that Glasgow has had its warmest day of the year, we are still wondering where the summer has gone. it has been damp all day, with some heavier showers, and although the temperature was a degree up on yesterday the northerly wind kept it feeling chilly. In fact, at one stage we resorted to burning rather than shredding old bills and receipts along with a few logs!!

It's been a funny old day. We have a professional here wallpapering the bedroom (a job to be finished tomorrow) while I'm struggling to stay awake - perhaps the lack of House Martin activity is to blame for that!.

While the summer is failing for us, an item on the BBC news emphasised the fact that it is a great summer far far as the slugs are concerned. I can vouch for that in our garden, and it has to be almost perfect for our hedgehog family. I haven't been seeing the youngsters out during the daytime this week, but mum was out during the afternoon, returning to the nest at around 3.20pm. Tonight, two of her offspring left the nest at 8.25 and 8.30pm.

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