April 16th   Leave a comment

There has been some talk about wildlife taking over in response to the lockdown. Perhaps. Disturbance is a big thing in ecology and many places and habitats are unsuitable for lots of species just because there are people there, or the noise they make. A person out for a walk, even with a well-mannered dog, probably presents no real threat to any wildlife, but how is wildlife to know this the case? And even if the response is just to stay out of the person’s way for a bit, if there are lots of people out – crossing Balcomie Beach every few minutes for example – then that area becomes more or less permanently unavailable. So, there is almost certainly a lockdown windfall for wildlife. But I wonder whether we would notice any real change in just a few weeks. Having said that, I will now tell my wildlife takeover anecdote… Last night a hedgehog scurried across the High Street (probably hadn’t been queuing for the co-op) and into my front garden. The first hedgehog ever in my garden. I know there are hedgehogs around Crail but like badgers, and indeed otters, they only are obvious as roadkill. Hedgehogs in particular are very susceptible to being run over and a fairly extensive and sound national survey in 2016 estimated 10-20% of the annual population of hedgehogs is killed on the roads – that’s several hundred thousands of hedgehogs each year. Road traffic is down by more than 70% at the moment, which over 6 weeks means with a back of the envelope calculation, more than 14,000 extra hedgehogs surviving. Probably more because few deaths occur during their hibernation period in winter, so it might be closer to 30,000. That is a lot of spare hedgehogs, and maybe one of these made it through the mean streets of Crail to my garden in the centre. Anyway we put out some dog kibble and a scrambled egg for it, which the dog, at least, enjoyed this morning. No sign of it today and I hope it is wandering somewhere safely, hoovering up slugs as it goes.

The hedgehog in my front garden last night – sheltering from the attention under the hedge.

Posted April 16, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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