Territorial

Today was quite annoying, for reasons with which I won’t bore you, but did provide one magical moment. Arriving back from choir practice just after 9pm, I took a glass of wine and wandered around the garden in the warm dusk, to see if I could find a roosting butterfly or a late-hunting dragon. I didn’t see either of those things, but I did spot a young hedgehog, which was trundling around the wild garden looking for food, and carried on fossicking even as I walked slowly and quietly towards it.

When I was a couple of metres away I stood still and just watched, as the hedgehog went about its work. Eventually it must have sensed a disturbance in the force, because it turned and looked straight at me, nose in the air and sniffing. I stayed very still, and after a few seconds it turned again, and went back to rummaging around in the undergrowth.  At this point I backed slowly away and then went back to the house to tell R about it, but by the time we both went down the garden again the noise of rummaging was coming from deep underneath a big conifer, and there was nothing to be seen. We’ve had hedgehogs here, on and off, for many years – in the past I’ve rescued them from dogs (and on one especially horrible occasion had to relieve Roley of the bloody remains of one he’d murdered), a few years ago (having become a dog-free household) we rehomed a couple from the Vale Wildlife Hospital, and we sometimes see them on our wildlife cam – but I’ve never in my life before had an experience quite like this. It was wonderful.

I wasn’t able to record the hedgehog encounter because it was too dark, so here is a photo I made earlier, on a butterfly hunt around the village. There were several male Large Skippers in this field, each looking after a small territory from a well-chosen perch, which they would leave to investigate interlopers and potential mates, before returning to the same spot and resuming their guard duties. Just after I took this shot, a second butterfly arrived and the pair went off in a whirling aerial dance, but I couldn’t see the newcomer well enough to decide if this was courtship or conflict.

It was an odd kind of day, weather-wise, with the light coming and going, so many of today’s images look a lot less summery than this. Nonetheless I did see some nice butterflies, including the first Marbled Whites of the year, and we also had a brief visit to the garden by a Hummingbird Hawkmoth. I’ve posted a few images here, if you’d like to see them.

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