Improving city green spaces for wildlife

York Railway Pond
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Mason (my borrowed doggy) and I loved our walk this morning around the historic railway pond in York. It’s a little way out of the centre of York, not too far from the Knavesmire Racecourse.

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Natural fencing around the site

The area is now managed by the York Natural Environment Trust and lots of work is happening to improve the area for wildlife.

Many of the trees have been pollarded to let more light in and provide space for a wider range of species to flourish. It was lovely to see wildflowers, including primroses and comfrey, starting to poke their way through.

Lots of other fantastic ideas as well including the natural fences around the site and lots and lots of log piles. Wonderful homes for insects – essential to feed our wildlife and would make great hedgehog homes too. Also plenty of places to sit and take in this very beautiful and tranquil location. I’m pretty sure that hedgehogs live here because I’ve released some at sites fairly nearby….

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Lots of lovely wood piles

 

It is wonderful to have spaces like this in the city where our wildlife can thrive. The pond is very near to Hob Moor and there is a lovely wildlife corridor pretty much linking the two locations. We need more of these wonderful sites and especially ones that are connected by wildlife corridors.

Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome at the pond.

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The woodland has been opened up to allow more species to flourish

Do you have any spaces like this near you?

These locations rely on the hard work and dedication of volunteers so please do support any work happening in your area.

I run a hedgehog rescue in York. You can find out more about my work here and how to support it.

I don’t have a dog of my own but I borrow a doggy via borrowmydoggy.

 

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My hedgehog rescue story – how I became a hedgehog rehabilitator

European hedgehog hoglet
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I’m frequently asked how I started rescuing hedgehogs and became a crazy hedgehog lady…. so here goes!

The inspiration started way way way back. Here is my mum as a girl with a hedgehog in her garden. So it must always have been in my genes!

Mum with hedgehog as young girl

My mum as a young girl with a hedgehog

I remember camping trips with my parents where we would hear hedgehogs snuffling around outside the tent. We even fed them hedgehog flavour crisps – well it was the 1980s! I now know better and would never feed crisps or bread.

One of my first dates with my now husband was to a hedgehog sanctuary in Devon. I got to hold a baby hedgehog and was smitten.

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Me in 2002 with a young hoglet at a Devon hedgehog sanctuary

When we relocated to York, I never expected to find hedgehogs in a city but I hoped and hoped. Then, one night, we came home to a hedgehog on the doorstep. I started feeding and watering them and more came. We soon had 7+ visiting every night.

It turns out that suburbia is one of the last and best refuges for hedgehogs.

After a few months, I spotted a hedgehog with a leaf on its back. I thought it was so cute that it had got a leaf stuck on its prickles. But I was wrong. Closer inspection revealed that the ‘leaf’ was green plastic netting from one of those fat balls that you feed to birds. The plastic was entangled all round the hedgehog.

I googled ‘hedgehog rescue york’ and found an amazing lady who has been rescuing hedgehogs for many years and it all started from there. I never knew until then about the plight of the hedgehog, how numbers were rapidly dwindling and how lucky I was to have them visiting my garden.

I have taken in more and more hedgehogs over the years as my skills and knowledge have grown. I started off looking after hedgehogs that had been treated for ailments but just needed fattening up for release. Then I started taking on poorly ones. I bought a microscope and joined lots of forums where hedgehog rescuers share knowledge and advice.

Studying poo under the microscope

Studying poo under the microscope

This is now my 6th year of hedgehog rescue and my success rate is around 80%. There are always hedgehogs that are found too late and are beyond help but I try my best with every hedgehog that arrives.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story of how it all started. Like all other wildlife rescues, my work is entirely self-funded. Many people are surprised to hear that rescues receive no money from the Government or larger charities. We all fund our work ourselves and could not do it without your help. You can find out more about my work here and also how to support it.

I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for the hedgehog hospital. You can visit my jewellery shop here.