Nature notes: Time to show a little pity to our fellow travellers

A hedgehog
A hedgehog

Where have all the hedgehogs gone? 500 a year go to Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital, as abandoned youngsters (hoglets), wounded, sick or disturbed in hibernation, to be cared for and relocated in the wild. Society having waged war against the planet in so many ways, the least we can is to show a little pity to our fellow life travellers.

Often we cannot. We have to eat them to stay alive ourselves, or we have to destroy their habitats to make our own so that we can have rubber, soya, beef, wheat, timber, houses, factories, roads, quarries, airports..... but at least we can show a little pity when we find a stricken traveller be it bird or beast.

I have been to parts of the world where pity is unknown among humans, where animals and birds have been tortured for fun; not killed cleanly for the kitchen which we all have to do live but just to enjoy watching terror. It is a very unpleasant thing to see. We wouldn’t do this to our own kind, not in this country.

Brent Lodge is a kind of Neighborhood Watch for animals and birds. They do the decent thing when a stricken creature is found. They mend it and put it back. It would be so much easier to drive past and leave it on the other side of the road.

Years ago I took them a heron which they repaired. But this sort of delicate long-term care is expensive, costing £20 every hour of every day, every day of every year.

Mute swans and tawny owls, badger cubs and even rabbits are repaired and put back into the wild.

Founder Dennis Fenter once asked me if I could find somewhere to relocate two wild rabbits which the hospital had cared for after children had brought them in. I could, and was pleased to do so, and to find them still alive outside their new burrow on Kingley Vale where they were being useful grazing the chalk sward, for several weeks afterwards. It helps to relieve one of the confusing paradox that life presents every day, as dominant species, with phenomenal power to harm.

Well, I am going along to Brent Lodge on their open day for wildlife and environmental awareness day on Monday 26th August from 10.00 - 16.00.

I shall be selling my two recent books on 52 Favourite Sussex Walks and also my newest book on when, where and how to watch birds, which has just been published. £1 from every copy sold will go to the hospital to help them out a little.

Hope to see you there. Apparently there will be good stalls and activities for the whole family . The hospital is at Cow Lane, Sidlesham, near Pagham Harbour.