Spring is well and truly here, chiffchaffs are singing their hearts out around the Parkridge Centre and we’re all getting excited about the hedgehog survey season being just around the corner. If you’ve already signed up to the garden hedgehog survey in the HIA then thank you. You will be hearing from me very soon with news about the survey, how to collect your survey equipment and the first of our HIA events!

Now, the survey isn’t going to start properly until well into May, but last week the sun was shining and we just got a bit excitable and couldn’t wait! With sightings starting to trickle in from across the county curiosity got the better of us so we decided to put a couple of survey footprint tunnels out in Brueton Park. The tunnels are a really simple, effective way to survey for hedgehogs. They’re essentially a big triangular tube with blank paper, ink pads and bait inside. Hedgehogs, or anything else for that matter, on their nightly wanderings pick up the scent of the food, wander through the tunnel, eat the food, get their paws covered in the harmless ink and leave us a nice trail of inky footprints on the paper.

@HedgehogOfficer building footprint tunnels
@HedgehogOfficer building footprint tunnels

Day One: I have to admit I was a bit excited, in the morning I prepared a little video on my way to the tunnels to document my anticipation. I tweeted the video to share my anticipation with the world! Surely I wouldn’t be let down?

Nothing! – despite it being a warm night there was absolutely nothing through the tunnels, not a mouse, not a slug and definitely not a hedgehog. Nothing.
So there was nothing else to do but to make another video about the tunnels being empty, leave the tunnels be and try again.

Day Two: 
The empty nothingness of day one in the tunnels only served to spur me on. I was even more expectant than the previous morning, despite it throwing it down with rain I had a good feeling about day two. And rightly so! The bait was gone and there on the paper a lovely inky trail of unmistakable hedgehog footprints.

 

Hedgehog Footprints. Brueton Park, Solihull 10/04/15
Hedgehog Footprints. Brueton Park, Solihull 10/04/15

I’m over the moon that we managed to get evidence of hedgehogs using Brueton Park after just two days of survey. It really is a very encouraging start to the months of survey and investigation ahead! If you’d like to take part in our footprint survey of Solihull then please send me an email, fill in our online form, or tweet me and we’ll be in touch with details in the next couple of weeks!

Simon, The Hedgehog Officer

simon.thompson@wkwt.org.uk,

@Help4Hedgehogs
@HedgehogOfficer