The aim of our Spring night work was to determine how many hedgehogs were utilising the study area. By walking set transects by torchlight we marked each unique individual and recorded each recapture to enable estimates of the density of the population to be calculated (See my previous post here about our night time antics). Once hedgehogs had undergone health checks and had met certain criteria, six hedgehogs were tagged with a satellite/radio tracker. This tracker would record a satellite position at regular intervals, enabling information on their movements to be obtained. It was then our job to keep an eye on them, give them health checks and ultimately retrieve the logger so that the data could be downloaded and insights gleened! This data will be crucial for Nottingham Trent’s Random Encounter Model population estimate, and will provide useful insights into the spatial behaviour of hedgehogs. This field work is part of a wider project being run by Nottingham Trent University, supported by People’s Trust for Endangered Species and British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
The trackers only had a finite battery life so once they were attached to the hedgehog (under license), the clock was ticking and the race was on! The tags emit a radio signal at certain hours of the day which enabled us to tune into the specific frequency of the tag and re-locate it, and the hedgehog it was attached to. To do this we needed a very large aerial, which you can imagine got some odd looks. Comments ranged from 'Are you tracking ghosts?' to the most popular 'Are you checking we have a TV license?' No-one expected our response to be related to hedgehogs, but were all intrigued none the less! Relocating hedgehogs was easier said than done in an urban environment but we had a huge amount of fun doing it. It was fascinating seeing the variety of nesting sites being used; underneath 12ft long corrugated roofing sheets, piles of leaves, in very dense bushes and under sheds!