THE new year has arrived mild and wet. Nature is getting confused here at The Hogsprickle; we have flowers blooming that should be asleep.
Our hedgehogs are all awake, hungry and grumpy and, unfortunately, it still too early to release them, so they will continue to enjoy their B&B here until the weather is mild enough for them to go into the outside runs to acclimatise, before release back to the wild.
The birds that were released during last year are, mostly, still around, as the garden is full of birds looking for an easy meal. Fat balls and bird seeds are an important supplement at this time, as the birds now need to put on condition and attract a mate ready to raise this year’s family.
Although it’s mild, you still need to keep an eye out for wildlife that may be injured or made homeless due to the heavy rainfall flooding ground nests of hedgehogs, foxes and other wildlife.
Female foxes, or vixens, are coming into season this month and the male foxes will be claiming territory for his mate. This also includes chasing away last year’s cubs, as they are adults now and looking for their own mates.
Badgers will be spending a lot more time underground in their setts, due to lack of food and the females, or sows, are pregnant, with some giving birth this month.
Bats will still be hibernating due to lack of food but in the milder weather they may wake and look for a meal. Squirrels tough it out during the colder weather and if you feed high protein and fat foods on the bird table, you might be lucky enough to see a squirrel visiting for an easy meal.
Perhaps a new year resolution for 2015 would be to make a mess in the garden. Well not all over the garden but perhaps have a wild area behind the shed or in a quiet corner. Make a leaf or log pile that will provide food and shelter for worms, woodlice, centipedes, beetles and all sorts of yummy insects that feed the birds, hedgehogs and other wild animals. Don’t use weed killers or insecticides in the garden, as insects and bees are important to support wildlife and plants. Just one small compost heap, leaf or log pile in every garden in Ireland will dramatically increase the health of wildlife and the countryside.
If you have any questions about wildlife, pets or dog, cat and puppy behaviour and training, I will do my best to answer questions and problems each week.