This autumn has been the warmest on record, and with December temperatures staying well above average, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has had many reports of plants and animals behaving oddly.
The Trust’s Jo Sayers saw a Common Darter dragonfly at the Swindon Sewage Works, and a swarm of midges at the Sewage Works at Waterhay. She said, “these are sights you?d expect to see in June, not December.”
The Trust has also had reports of ash trees coming into leaf, celandines and snowdrops pushing up their leaves months early, and hedgehogs foraging on lush lawns long after they should have been in hibernation.
“I’m one of several people who have seen dead baby hedgehogs,” said Jo. “This may mean that some hedgehogs have had a second litter. Humans can feed their young and keep them warm at any time of year, but animals have evolved to breed when the weather is warm and there’s plenty of food about. Young hedgehogs need to feed themselves up to survive hibernation; if they’re born in late autumn when there is less food about, they stand very little chance.”
If you find a baby hedgehog, please report it to the Trust’s Wildlife Information Volunteer, tel (01380) 725670, ext 359, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
They can give advice on how to care for it. If it seems injured or unwell, contact the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital. General Enquiries 01980 629470, emergencies 07850 778752, email: email@example.com
To help hedgehogs in your garden, put a box stuffed with newspaper (not shredded) or hay in your shed or carport, for them to rest or hibernate in. For a free leaflet on how to make one, contact trust. It’s also a good idea to leave a container of fresh water and a small saucer of dog- or cat-food nearby. (Never put out bread and milk as it can make them very ill). By doing this, you’ll be playing your part in helping Wiltshire’s hedgehogs survive a confusing and potentially deadly season.
Photo: Darin Smith
o The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is one of the UK’s leading environmental charities, which recognises that the conservation of wildlife and preservation of the planet are inextricably linked, and works to promote a sustainable future for wildlife and people.
The trust has more than 18,000 members and supporters, and more than a thousand volunteers working on a range of projects from promoting energy efficiency in the home as a step towards slowing climate change, to waste prevention programmes that reduce the rubbish going to landfill sites, to working on one of the trust’s nature reserves to conserve the Wiltshire countryside and the rich variety of plants and animals that live there.
The trust owns or manages 2,000 acres of nature reserves that provide havens for plants and animals. It advises landowners on how to manage their land with wildlife in mind, and comments on planning applications that affect sites of wildlife interest. The trust also actively promotes community wildlife programmes and environmental education.