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Swallows heading south

The swallows are off

Bev Truss
Bev Truss

THERE’S a definite change in the air. The days are shorter and there is a coolness around. The Hogsprickle swallows have left on their long flight to Africa and the warmer weather there. We were lucky enough to see two sets of fledglings and a lucky three chicks from another nest in Ennis that were adopted and successfully reared by over-worked parents. Now they are all gone and good luck to them.

Now, it’s up to the adults and the youngsters to get ready for their first days of winter. Luckily, Mother Nature slowly introduces them to the hard times and turns down the temperature. She has provided our wildlife with bramble berries, fallen apples, sloe berries, hazelnuts, damsons and, as we all know, they also make delicious jams and jellies for us too.

There are many insects still around but they are getting fewer as the days shorten and the cooler wet weather arrives. So, at this time of the year, we should be thinking about starting to clean our bird feeders and putting out seeds. This is to let the birds know where to find a meal when times get tough.

Later on, when the weather turns really cold, introduce the fat balls and suet pellets. The young mammals can also benefit from a few dishes of cat or dog food placed around. Stick to chicken in jelly though, as other flavours and gravy can give them tummy upsets.

Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets, as these will harm whatever will eat the snails and the food chain. Keep a corner of your garden wild, to offer shelter, food and protection. This is where you can put the food out each evening if you want to attract hedgehogs. Ensure they can come and go from your garden, as they may have a nest or family to look after elsewhere.

Make or buy a hog house for the wild part of your garden. It might prove a lifeline for a mother and her young hoglets. Even a log pile will not only provide shelter but also food as the hedgehogs, mice, stoats and so on will feast on the insects living in a wood pile.

Check leaf litter and other areas thoroughly with a torch and broom handle before burning, strimming or mowing. Keep netting 10’’ to 12” off the ground, so small animals can pass under the netting without getting caught. Every year, wildlife is harmed, injured and killed by discarded rubbish and garden nets, twine, plastic bags and bonfires.

Ponds and cattle grids need to have a gently sloping escape ramp rough enough for them to get a grip to climb out, for animals that can fall in. As wildlife gets hungrier they take risks they wouldn’t normally when they have an abundance of food.

I have had baby hogs handed in last week that were newborn; perhaps the milder weather we have enjoyed has upset the natural rhythm. These babies would not have survived hibernation so I would ask that if you see a small hedgehog that you please get in touch with us for advice.

The Hogsprickle works with the NPWS, who licence us for each rescue we have.

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