We need to talk about bats and hedgehogs.
Of course, bats have been in the news as somehow being the cause – in the Orient, if that is still a place – of the coronavirus though, at the time of writing, various other causes have been adduced and I remain where I am to be found on most issues of the day: none the wiser.
But I’ve been enjoying the four or five bats who come swooping round my garden in the evening. Such a thrill. They come quite close sometimes but my understanding is that a message comes up on their radar saying: “Watch oot for Rab’s heid.”
They’re useful too, taking out pesky flying insects, though not nearly enough of them. “Do help yourself to seconds!” I shout up at them.
Back down on the ground, I had another thrilling encounter with … a hedgehog. How wonderful. I hadn’t seen one for years.
Again, it was in the early evening. I could just make out a dark shape up by the vegetable patch. Taking my courage in my hands, and ignoring the usual voice in my head that urges me to get inside swiftly and lock the door when confronted with the unknown, I approached the beastie and was delighted to see it take shape.
It didn’t run away or even curl up into a ball. It just gave me a sideways look. Then it buried its snout deep in the grass, trying for a worm, I guess.
Meanwhile, I stood there looking – to use the medical term – glaikit. The hedgehog resurfaced, gave me another cool glance, then skedaddled to the top of the garden.
When I got back to the house, I researched whether there was anything helpful to give them to eat, and discovered they like dog food. Full of protein, d’you see? Crushed up biscuits were said to be all right. Bread not so much and milky stuff not at all.
So, lacking dog food on account of lacking a dog, I’ve been putting out a crushed oatcake each evening and, by morning, it’s all gone. However, at the time of writing, I haven’t caught sight of the beastie again.
Possibly, he or she finds it too noisy round here. But, if you factor out all the horticultural ordnance, DIY drills and loud radios, you’re left only with the glory of birdsong and, by evening, the air is positively pullulating with tweets, chirps and trills. The song thrush, in particular, is marvellous.
I also saw another tree creeper the other day, so the birds round here are doing well. Back to the hedgehog, and I read further that they’re independent little fellows, beetling hither and yon, largely minding their own business.
As for the bats, they’re a merry little gang. I don’t know where they hang out, so to say. Maybe they have a flat-share with the owl.
Such a lot of beasties and birdies round here. I don’t know what they make of we humans, though I think sometimes they are glad of us, particularly when we turn the earth and also, of course, when we put out seeds or suet pellets or … oatcakes.
Perhaps the hedgehog has gone back to his friends and said: “You’ll never guess what: I saw a Rab the other day.”