We wondered afterwards if we should have taken him further from the road, or even brought him home (he was only about 1/3 of a mile away). Despite the usefulness of hedgehogs in a garden, and the generous number of slugs I am able to provide, I think that would have been too high risk though - I'm not entirely sure how the resident sighthounds would react to the presence of hedgepigs. Also, I suppose, we might have ended up bringing him into badger territory. It's been a while since I've seen a badger around here or heard one in the garden, but there were quite a few around a few years back.
It was good to see the hedgehog, since they seem to be a species in sharp decline. I find this terribly worrying. Hedgehogs have somehow hung in there as a common sight in Britain for all this time, even though they are almost defenceless, (their spines are really not that sharp) and clumsy, noisy and slow. And now it looks like they are going, or at least declining from a common sight to a rare thing seen only in special places - and you have to wonder why *now*.
For all we talk about habitat loss and pesticides and predators, I have to wonder how much of it is just traffic - which is, of course, much harder to tut about, because traffic is so many of us. More cars, more roads, all cutting a swathe of death across the landscape. Same with the butterflies. I have a huge buddleia bush outside my house in full bloom right now, and there are more of them all over the bank. My garden and the surrounding hedges and verges are full of excellent butterfly and bee-habitat, and many of my neighbours gardens are more than a little on the wild side : I'd be amazed if they were using much by way of pesticides. The local fields are not sprayed. And yet, on my buddleia, huge and purple and full of tempting scents - nothing but a few bumble-bees.
I can remember as a child in the 1970s', helping my father clean bugs of the windscreen of his car. You had to do it often, or you wouldn't be able to see out. The whole front windscreen was a sad little insect graveyard, all wings and legs. I can't remember the last time I had to clean bugs off my car. OK, my car is more curvy than a 1970's car, and probably acts as rather less of a mobile flyswat, but still, that seems odd.
Today it is mizzling persistently and all the horizons are close and full of fog. At the same time, it is quite warm. Rainforest weather...