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Assorted Wildlife, Beekeeping, Birds, birds, Blackbirds, Crows, feeding, Great Tits, Hedgehog, Robins

Ex luna, scientia

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Not, however, the moon of Wednesday night, but another March full moon                   (attribution:  slgckgc [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D

Yes, looking back over the last few posts, it is clear I have become a bit moon mad. But in the best possible way, I hope.  I do think that I can be excused for my excessive interest (although this article doesn’t), as this was the third and final super moon for 2019, a bit of an event I think.

As the Latin title says, ‘From the moon, knowledge.’  According to the CBS news website (US television):

This close approach [to earth, definition of a super moon] is called perigee by astronomers. 

The March equinox [Did I forget to say it marked the spring equinox as well?] is the start of spring for the Northern Hemisphere. Full moons that occur in March are often called “worm moons” because spring brings warmer temperatures — and, therefore, more worms, CNET reports. Put these two things together and you get the “super worm equinox moon.”

While Super Worm Equinox is cool, this moon is also known by the following names:  Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Crust Moon, Chaste Moon, Sugar Moon, and Sap Moon.

I am liking the Crow Moon

Because, as I have mentioned in previous posts, when not talking about the moon, I now have a resident crow family. Not resident in the sense that they have a nest or even roost in my yard (that would be so cool), but because when they do leave wherever it is they roost, they pretty much report for work in the vicinity of my yard and touchdown for some food in it. It helps that there is a field across the way, and plenty of trees to watch and gossip in. They, as well as the resident robin and blackbird out front, wake me up in the morning . The problem is that one of their favorite gossiping posts is a tree in the next yard that borders another yard. I wouldn’t class those neighbors as the most wild-life friendly. And it’s their windows the crows have decided to have their loudest, most prolonged conversations (when they are not buzzing my yard to scope out the food opportunities. I swear British Crows have lower pitched voices than American Crows…

 

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These are ‘watch’ crows from the Tower of London. Observing the behavior of our resident family, I can definitely see the talent for watching! (attribution: Purityofspirit at English Wikipedia [Public domain])

And they’re off!

It just seems like all the birds and bees are amped up just this past week, in time for equinox.  I have three boy blackbirds, including Boss (my pal for going on 6 years now),  too busy chasing each other out of territories to bother with worms, which leaves all the more for the girls, one of which follows me into the garage in the morning to get her own stash.

 

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A much younger Boss-man-bird from three summers back. He’s all black now, and beak and eye rim are a burnt orange. (attribution: Tony John)

 

Of course, this behavior is nothing new to the robins; they have been chasing each other off for at least a month now.  But, in the past week or so, I have noticed this behavior in the great tits. This is interesting to me, because I am of the opinion (not empirical mind, but from years of observation) that this is the point at which the rather close-knit family of great tits, parents and children who have been together since last spring nesting and fledging, starts to come apart in territorial battles before breeding. I think last summer there were at least two sets of fledges, vying for the bird feeders.

 

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Cast of characters: European Robin, Great Tit, House Sparrows (attribution: Tony John)

 

The bees I am keeping an eye on for now. We have not invaded their space to examine or to leave fondant. I bought the fondant and had every intention of giving it to them. Aside from lack of opportunity, I held back because my bees, if I can presume to use the possessive, never go for it. So I am keeping an eye.

 

It’s a new one on me

 

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Alpacas! (attribution: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D)

 

I’ve never had any dealings with them before, but have seen plenty on Yukon Vet (tv series). I’m a little dubious of the ‘keeping’ of them especially if not in a herd. But maybe I am getting a little extreme on the subject of wild animals and captivity? (can’t bear to see birds in cages). Anyway, as part of my volunteering for Cinnamon Trust, I am helping someone tend to alpacas. They are fascinating creatures. I have read that alpacas are more like cats, and llamas are more like dogs. I don’t know any llamas, but I think the comparison between cats and alpacas is a good one. They are aloof, indifferent to touch, but their curiousity allows for some pretty close contact. I have been in the paddock twice with them, and it’s been–you guessed it–cool!

 

As it’s spring, another country heard from

 

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First conservatory incursion of the season on Thursday

 

Which allows me to report that I have finally found the one sensible voice in the hedgehog world–finally! Pat Morris has actually run projects on hedgehog behavior, including eating. He’s the man who essentially ‘wrote the book’ on hedgehogs which has just been updated. None of this ‘don’t feed them peanuts, don’t feed them mealworms because they will get bandy legs’ nonsense based on no empirical evidence, only that a few bandy legged ones had been reported from a garden where big bowlsful of peanuts had been left.

 

New Hedgehogs

 

This is what Pat Morris has to say:

Now this is going to upset a lot of folk. In seventeen nights, at least eleven different animals visited our principal food bowl. The six radio-tagged ones (all caught at the bowl) did not simply pop in…to feed at the special bowl and then go back again. They all went to other gardens as well…the normal pattern was to forage from one garden to the next, taking in neighbours’ food bowls on the way. So each particular garden does not have its own separate set of visitors. Moreover, on some nights the animals deserted the study garden and went to visit others in another road 200 metres away. (p110).

The point is that despite the easy pickins’, hedgehogs roam far and wide, and they have a wide diet. It might be disturbing to some to know that they are partial to other animals if the opportunity presents, maybe even birds and rats (this page mentions Morris’ data, and provides graphs on the stomach contents of hedgehogs. While Morris is careful to say he hasn’t evidence of mammals as part of their diet, the writer on this page is more convinced (not I didn’t say ‘convincing’). The upshot is that hedgehogs are scavengers.

Oh, and about the peanuts: just make sure they are chopped as whole ones can get stuck in their teeth. And Morris kept referring to bread and milk, and I know milk is anathema on sanctuary websites. Not necessarily so, according to Morris.

Scientia indeed!

Wooh, began blog with one obsession only to finish with another!

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Ex luna, scientia

  1. We have been visited by hedgehogs for the last 40 years that we have lived here, and for the last four or five have been feeding them. Last June/July they disappeared without trace. No poo on the lawns, food clearly being eaten by other animals and no sightings, dead or alive. Our neighbours report the same. I hope to re-establish some next year if they remain absent, but we are infinitely sad.

    Posted by hilarycustancegreen | March 24, 2019, 12:16 pm
    • Sad, and an interesting puzzle. There could be many factors, and not all of them bad, having to do with the immediate and greater environment. Morris goes through a lot of them. On the positive side, another food source close to you or far away might have presented itself. Even an estate being built could present more diversity. Houses and gardens are often more agreeable to hedgehogs than farmland. Of course there are the negatives: with those houses could come hedgehog-proof fencing, causing them to make wide detours. Even a close neighbor putting up that fencing could do it. Which leads to zealous gardening which leads garden chemicals. And then there are badgers. The reasons can be complex or quite simple. I’d say continue putting out the food, maybe think of hedgehog houses. Someone will get the benefit!

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | March 24, 2019, 3:29 pm
      • My neighbours and I all have holes cut in our fences. One of them thinks there was a badger around, so that’s the most likely, though I have not seen any evidence myself. We used to see hedgehogs who hadn’t made it across the local roads in past years, but none recently. Even a few years ago I would see up to 4 hedgehogs in a night. I hope you are right and that they are still out there, just lying low. We have plenty of places for hedgehogs to live, but I will get a special feeding station, so that we are not feeding every passing rat or cat.

        Posted by hilarycustancegreen | March 24, 2019, 9:02 pm
      • I tend not to leave dog/cat food for them, not because of passing trade, but because they are just not interested in it. Although, my husband is giving it a go now, we usually do at the beginning of the season, and then just give up. The hedgehogs are usually out early enough here to get first dibs. I don’t mind any other wild thing giving it a go after that. Is the food you leave totally untouched in the morning? How do you know hedgehogs are not coming later at night? Do you have cameras?

        Posted by mylatinnotebook | March 25, 2019, 10:20 am
      • I only leave out a mixture of Hedgehog food (from Ark Wildlife) and we used to see hogs when we fed close to the back door. Last year, because of works near the house, we moved the feeding tray towards the back of the garden and I saw hedgehogs there. In wet weather you can also tell from the pattern of footprints in the plate, and they often paddled in the drink dish. Yes, sometimes there were late night visitors as well as the early ones and I don’t mind the odd mouse or fox having a nibble (not so keen to positively invite cats and muntjacs). By the middle of the year the food was being left or one type selectively eaten. We haven’t seen a single hedgehog poo since then and nor have neighbours. I continued to leave out water, but stopped leaving food eventually.

        Posted by hilarycustancegreen | March 28, 2019, 3:03 pm
      • It’s interesting that there’s food left. You’d think all the other creatures would clean up! The hedgehogs in my garden tend to be pretty selective, at least early in the evening.

        Posted by mylatinnotebook | April 1, 2019, 9:21 am
  2. Lots to cover, but I’m definitely with you on birds in cages–I just experience a visceral ‘yuk’ when I see that, which, thankfully, isn’t often. Boss is still with you, that’s cool! Alpacas and hedgehogs, I don’t know much about either, except that both are cute looking, in their various ways. Interesting about the food preferences of the Hedgehogs are wild, is it a surprise that they might eat whatever (including “meats”) that they find?

    Posted by Tina | March 24, 2019, 4:24 pm
    • I know. I wonder sometimes if I am getting a bit too precious about it all. My niece has one of those white hedgehogs as a pet, and I do try to keep my thoughts to myself about it. In terms of their diet, I guess I am going to have to rethink dog and cat food in light of this info. Although, our hedgehogs still turn their noses up at it!

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | March 25, 2019, 10:16 am
  3. When I lived in Reading we used to pass an Alpaca farm now and then. I remember being warned that they might spit at you if they were unhappy. Is this true or just another urban myth?

    Posted by philipstrange | April 1, 2019, 8:29 pm

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