Category Archives: Birds and Wildlife

English hedgehogs in a dramatic decline… but we can all help!

Hedgehog

At the age of 23, I can honestly say that I have only a handful of memories of ever seeing a hedgehog. When I was around the age of 6 or 7, me and my family became aware of very timid hedgehog visiting our garden in the evenings for a spot of dinner. Sometimes we’d catch a glimpse of it but not always… and after a week or so it stopped visiting.

I vividly remember one evening my mum waking me up and excitedly telling me to go and look at something outside. Confused and sleepily I stepped forwards slowly and could see the hedgehog in the middle of the grass… but it was hunched over and didn’t look quite right. For a horrible few moments I worried that it had hurt itself, but on closer inspection we noticed the hedgehog drop something.. it had been holding a baby hedgehog! The mother took a few small steps backwards, allowing me and my mum to really get a closer look of the baby. After a minute or so, the mother stepped forwards, picked up her baby, walked away and we never saw her again.

It felt like she had been using our garden as a maternity ward and before leaving wanted us to understand why she had been there. It is a fond memory of mine, especially as I haven’t ever seen a hedgehog since.

SOS Logo

Were you aware that, devastatingly, English hedgehogs are disappearing about as fast as tigers are worldwide? To be more precise – they are in decline by around 97%. Surprisingly, there is also evidence to suggest that they are suffering just as badly in the wider countryside as they are in more built-up areas.

This shocking revelation comes as a result of a number of different factors: loss of hedgerows and grassland due to urban development, digestion of pesticides and herbicides, and believe it or not but even tidy and sterile gardens have majorly contributed (fences and roads have been pushing hedgehogs into smaller inhabitable areas).

But we can all help to stop this species being lost forever through a number of different ways:

  1. Place down some tubing in your garden and fill it with dried mealworms, cat food and water (make sure it’s large enough for a hedgehog – you don’t want it to get stuck!). This provides a fantastic and cost-effective home or pit-stop for passing hedgehogs.
  2. Leave a messy patch in your garden (compost heaps or log piles work too!) and hedgehogs may use these to create a nest for hibernating or rearing babies – messy patches are beneficial to hedgehogs because they attract insects!
  3. Hedgehogs won’t ever stay in just one garden – they need more space: streets, neighbourhoods and linked gardens. You could help make this possible by cutting one or two small holes in your garden fence (approximately 13cm x 13cm in diameter) to allow them to move easily around from garden-to-garden – then make sure to let all your friends and neighbours know to do the same!
  4. Wildlife World Hogilo House

    Hogilo House from Wildlife World

    For those of you with a bit more cash to spare, why not consider buying a Wildlife World Hedgehog House (£47.99?) or a Wildlife World Hogilo Hedgehog House (£44.99)? Place these in a shady and peaceful area of your garden – and make sure that you’ve cut a hole in your fence for them to access it! Both of these homes can be bought online or in store from Longacres Bagshot and Shepperton.

  5. Don’t litter! Even something as small as an elastic band can kill a hedgehog.
  6. Donate to a hedgehog charity and provide funding for research into ways to stop hedgehogs from going into extinction. You could even fundraise for them by holding a charity event!
  7. Try to avoid treating your lawn with herbicide and putting down slug pellets.. these can kill hedgehogs if digested in large doses.

For many of us, hedgehogs played a part in childhood memories of ours, but at this rate our future generations won’t be lucky enough to ever see one.. so let’s all get involved and help save the species!

Hedgehog

A Goldfinch on a snowy plant

Gardening with Birds: Best Birds to Keep | Longacres Garden Centre

Birds are a beautiful and exciting addition to any garden. It’s heart warming to see these creatures picking your garden to feed or make its temporary home. Bird watching may not sound exciting, but there is something very fulfilling about spotting an especially beautiful or rare bird. This explains why so many people choose bird watching as a hobby.

As a matter of fact, we love birds so much we have compiled a list of the best feathered friends to look out for in the garden, along with how to attract them.

Golden Opportunity

The first bird on the must-see list is the goldfinch. They are a very common bird, visiting over half of the gardens in the UK every week. Nothing brings these birds to the yard faster than sunflower hearts and nyger seeds. Bird watchers love spotting goldfinches because of the combination of their golden brown bodies and red faces.

House Guests

The next bird on the list is the house sparrow. These are a noisy bunch, and fly all over the country in small flocks. They make their homes in – well, homes. There is nothing particularly special about their diet, and will eat virtually anything made for birds.

Romantic Bands

Pushing the difficulty up a tick, the next bird is the collared dove. These birds are distinct because of the black collar on their necks. The only thing that makes this bird partially hard to spot is that they do not fly in flocks. Being romantic birds, collared doves only travel in pairs. When a bird watcher spots this bird, its partner is not far off.

Loud and Colourful

The chaffinch is one of the most colourful bird you can spot in a garden. They sport a shock of blue-grey plumage on their heads. Still, that is not their defining feature. Chaffinches have a distinctly loud chirp that lets people know they are coming.

Look Down

Watchers will need to do a bit of work to spot a dunnock. This bird’s favourite foods are worms and spiders. This is why they like spending time under bushes and around flowerbeds. This is the only bird that bird watchers look for staring down instead of up.

If you have any questions about birds and the best feed to attract certain types, contact us today. Our teams deal in bird feed all the time, and know a thing or two about the birds flying over British skies.