Nature is not always pretty and pleasurable


During last week’s Indian summer, I tried to soak up as much vitamin D as possible before the winter, by spending as much time outside as I could.

Between gardening and hillwalking, it was a most enjoyable spell, spilling over between September and October.

On one particularly pleasurable outing to the Three Brethren cairns on the hills above Selkirk, I was sitting just over the brow of the hill, out of the breeze, enjoying the views up the Tweed Valley, counting the wind turbines on the horizon (139 in all!) when I became aware of someone else doing something similar on the other side of the cairns.

I wandered over for a chat and discovered it was a keen hillwalker of a similar vintage to me, from Denholm. We exchanged wildlife stories for a while and I was particularly interested to hear one experience he had at home.

For several weeks he had been feeding a hedgehog every night in his garden and had become quite attached to it.

One night he was awakened in the middle of the night by a terrible squealing.

Thinking it was the neighbourhood cats, he went out to chase them off. He was horrified to discover that a badger was attacking his hedgehog.

He tried throwing things at it to try and scare it off but to no avail. The brock faced him up, determined it wasn’t going to be deprived of a meal.

Eventually, he managed to drive it off, but it was too late for his hedgehog. Sometimes nature can be hard to take.

Coincidentally, one evening last week, I discovered a young hedgehog in the back garden – the first I’ve encountered this year.

I immediately thought about the story about the badger, but thankfully there’s none around where I live, so it shouldn’t meet that fate.

Its main risk is that it may be underweight before hibernation time and won’t have enough fat reserves to see it through the winter.

They need to be at least a pound in weight to stand a chance.

I was going to mark it and weigh it, but after I took its picture it ran off into the gloom, never to be seen again.

The recent frosty nights have been terrible for moths, with my moth trap being empty on several occasions during the fine spell.

On the subject of moths, I was drawn to an article in a magazine recently, which got me thinking.

All over the country, the old orange street lamps are being replaced by new, brighter, more energy efficient ones, which the moths love.

Our street has had them installed and on a good night, hundreds of moths can be seen circling the lamps.

Consequently, the local bat population has tabbed on to this easy food source and they too can be seen swooping round the lights scooping up the moths.

This raises several questions in my mind, such as: If the moths are spending hours circling the lights, what effect is this having on their feeding and breeding habits?

What effect is the extra bat predation having on numbers? Is this extra food supply having an effect on the bat population?

Food for thought.

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