Evidence of rummaging
I went out for my morning inspection of the garden and discovered that my Alderman pea seedlings (above) had been rummaged overnight, as had my newly planted potatoes and a few leeks. The mulch of grass cuttings I put around my tomato plants a few days ago had been burrowed into and flung all over the path. Grrrr!
But this time there was forensic evidence! There in the soil around the pea seedlings were some claw marks, and in one place something resembling a footprint. It wasn't very clear, but enough to see that the phantom marauder has small clawed hands with a spread of about half an inch. Which immediately led me to conclude it was a hedgehog. It's the most common nocturnal digger in the UK with feet of that size, and it eats worms and grubs. It still doesn't explain how or why it got to the pots I'd put in high places, but it was by far the most likely.
And then I turned round and saw the culprit himself! A hedgehog waddling across the scrubby patch of lawn I laughingly call a wildflower meadow at the bottom of the garden. "That's odd," I thought. "They don't normally come out in the daytime." I had the camera in my hand so I managed to snap the evidence before he sauntered off into a pile of discarded potato haulms.
And another thing that was odd ... he showed no fear of me at all, and not even much awareness that I was there. Most hedgehogs leg it into the bushes when they encounter a human. Then I got a closer look at him and saw that he was blind. In fact he looks like a very elderly and decrepit hedgehog indeed and I fear his rummaging days are drawing towards their natural close. I stood very still for a bit so as not to startle him and he came right up to me, brushed against my legs and then walked over my foot!
One of my cats came out to see what was going on but she obviously knows that prodding hedgehogs is not a good idea so she just sat and looked at him. At first I thought he was on his last legs because he spent some time slumped under a butternut squash plant making wheezing noises, but then he got up and started scampering about ... found his way into next door's garden and then came back in the late afternoon and scampered around on the patio, trampling my chocolate cosmos in the process.
I'm calling him Dodgem because he charges around bouncing off things. He seems happy enough; he can't see where he's going so he just crashes through stuff.
Out on a 24-hour rummaging spree. And I hoped you wouldn't get to see those horrible slug-tunnelled spuds. Dang.