Hedging my bets

Hedgehog by Dave Steel

Day 28 and 29 of Dave Steel’s 30 Days Wild adventure involves a late evening encounter in his garden and then back on the moss in the morning.

Had to start today's Wild an hour or so early for day 29 - a case, perhaps, of poetic licence but without which I couldn't share a garden wild. Let me explain…

If I can remember to wander outside to take in our own Simmer Dim, at this time of year, especially on such beautiful evenings as last night, I usually take my bat detector with me. From time to time one or two bats check out my garden on their search for insects. These are usually our smallest bats pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle.

Their pitch being up to 42-55 Hz, the sky had that translucent blue in which the bats although unseen gave themselves away by their echolocation pitch. Excellent, it was time to go back in the house, but I then had that primeval feeling I was being watched.

It turned out that standing next to me was my long, lost resident hedgehog. Well I thought it had moved on as its tell-tale leavings have not been on my lawn this year. It must have been being discrete.

The panic then set in. Will it hang around long enough for me to go and grab my camera. With my fictional notes forming I dashed in and grabbed it.

It had moved, but on my overgrown lawn it still stuck around long enough for me to remember how to switch on my camera flash. Pics taken it shook a leg and moved on. The fiction lay in the Johnny Morris section of my mind telling the tale as:

“Hey Dave what are you watching?”

Bats dear Hedge.”

“Oh is that all? I was hoping you would direct me to some slugs as I know you have LOADS of them in your garden.”

Sorry no but could you do me a favour and wait for me to get my camera?

“Well not really but hurry up.”

And then: ““Here I am, now on your overgrown lawn now only take one of my best side. Come on I haven't got all night. Onne photo is enough, I'm off.”

And I was left with the moths, the bats having moved on. Now, at my time of life, that is what I call a really wild night and only 10 steps from my settee.

Day 29

First to start the day, Woolston Eyes Reserve drew me to its Wild, which being busy in its black-headed gull colony gave plenty to distract me from our moss for a good few hours.

Then it was time to call in on the moss and off I moved with a kaleidoscope of wild memories buzzing around my head. Mute swan being harassed by gulls, young gulls being gently cared for by their usually raucous parents and young peregrines starting to master the art of flight.

Heat and dragonflies were on the Moss to greet me, whilst our own black-headed gulls were in more soporific mood and idling away the day with oystercatcher and lapwing by some open water.

A visitor from London who had heard of how good our Moss was to visit, then asked me directions about Chat Moss to view our Wild. Yes, our Salford and Wigan Wild is bringing in our southern friends. It’s not quite as grim up North as others may have been told and, in my opinion, it is worth saving for future generations.

This is an asset, perhaps not displaying monetary value, but one that can and does enrich us all in the end.

30 Days Wild