Sunday 27 November 2016


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The common hedgehog, Erinaceus Europaeus, is familiar across Britain and Ireland.  These nocturnal animals are the largest of our insectivores and can often be seen at dusk in woods, hedgerows and gardens.

Hedgehogs are stout animals that are about 25 cm long and covered with distinctive dense, stiff spikes over their back, sides and top of the head. These spines are 20 mm long and pale brown with a dark band below the tip, giving a flecked effect.  They have a hairy face, rather than spiny, and a long pointed muzzle with a shiny black nose. Ears are visible in front of the spines, the legs appear short and the tail is hidden.

They feed on slugs, earthworms, caterpillars, beetles and other small invertebrates, along with small frogs, slow worms, mice and eggs.  They breed may till October, producing an average of five young, which are born small and helpless. After six weeks they are weaned and ready to face the world.

Hedgehogs hibernate during the winter usually from October till April depending on temperature, wrapping themselves in leaves, under dense bushes or in piles of cut brushwood. They can become very fat prior to hibernation, gaining a body weight of around 400 g or more in order to survive the winter.

You can encourage nest building by leaving patches of dense bramble, piles of shrub trimmings or a purpose built hibernation box.  Also check bonfires prior to lighting as hedgehogs will often nest here.  If you see a hedgehog out during the day its is a sign that something is wrong.  Relocate to a nice quiet area in a safe location and allow to rest. Emergency food can be provided in the form of tinned cat food, never milk.

Bat boxes
British Bats: Common Pipistrelle
How to make an insect house
Hummingbird hawk moth

Sunday 20 November 2016

BRITISH BATS: Common pipistrelle

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Watching bats fly around at dusk during the summer nights is a true delight. However this is becoming a rarer sight, as bat populations have suffered severe decline during the past century due to loss of habitat and modern agricultural policies.

There are 18 species of bat in the UK, made up of resident and vagrant species.  British resident breeding species include:

·       Alcathoe bat
·       Barbastelle
·       Bechstein's bat
·       Brandt's bat
·       Brown long-eared bat
·       Common pipistrelle
·       Daubenton's bat
·       Greater horseshoe bat
·       Grey long-eared bat
·       Leisler's bat
·       Lesser horseshoe bat
·       Nathusius' pipistrelle
·       Natterer's bat
·       Noctule
·       Serotine
·       Soprano pipistrelle
·       Whiskered bat

Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)

Pipistrelles are the commonest and most widespread of all British bat species and are the ones that you are most likely to spot flying in the sky catching insects on the wing. There are two pipistrelle species found in the UK, the common and soprano pipistrelle. They were only identified as separate species in the 1990s as the two species look very similar 

Pipistrelles are medium brown in colour, 35-45 mm long with a wingspan of 200 mm. They are busy creatures, and in fact a single pipistrelle can consume up to 3,000 insects in one night. 

They feed in a wide range of habitats comprising woodland, hedgerows, grassland, farmland, suburban and also urban areas. They generally emerge from their roost around 20 minutes after sunset and fly 2-10 m above ground level searching for their insect prey, which they catch and eat on the wing.

Summer roosts of both common and soprano pipistrelles are usually found in crevices around the outside of often newer buildings, such as behind hanging tiles, soffit and barge or eaves boarding, between roofing felt and roof tiles or in cavity walls, although this species also roosts in tree holes and crevices, and also in bat boxes. 

Echolocation Sounds produced by common pipistrelles are above the range of human hearing with the exception of social calls that may be heard by children and some adults with good hearing. With a bat detector the echolocation calls can be picked up between about 45 and 70kHz. 

Populations of pipistrelles pipistrelles have declined dramatically in the last few decades, at least partly as a result of modern agricultural practices, although common pipistrelle populations have started showing signs of recovery in recent years. Their reliance on buildings for roosting makes them vulnerable to building renovations, exclusion and toxic remedial timber treatment chemicals.

Bat boxes
British Bats: Common Pipistrelle
How to make an insect house
Hummingbird hawk moth

Thursday 3 November 2016


Click here for the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop

This turkish delight is a fabulous gift to give for Christmas and looks brilliant in a glass jar or pretty box.


2 tablespoons orange blossom water
3.5 oz / 100 g cornflour
1 oz / 25 g icing sugar
3 x 12 g sachets powdered gelatine
Juice from 1 lemon


Wet a 20 cm cake tin with water and line with cling film. Sift icing sugar and 25 g cornflour into bowl and use 1 tablespoon of the mixture to dust teh base and sides of the tin/cling film.

Place the sugar, gelatine and cornflour into a saucepan and whisk, gradually add the water and the lemon juice.  Gently heat until the sugar dissolves and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture is thickened and turns a pale yellow. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the orange blossom water and pour into the prepared tin. Leave to cool for at least 6 hours but do not cover or refrigerate.

Turn out onto a surface lightly dusted with some of the reserved cornflour mixture, and invert the Turkish Delight on to it.  Cut into small squares and coat with teh cornflour mixture prior to serving.

Store in an airtight container with the remaining cornflour mixture at cool room for up to a month. Pack into boxes sprinkled with a little more of the cornflour mixture.