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Hegehog Heroes



Hedgehogs in Regent's Park

I'm privileged to be able to photograph Regent's Park's hedgehogs and the Hedgehog Heroes research team each spring and autumn.  It's such fun.  Who else gets to walk around Regent's Park at night with thermal imaging cameras, flashlights and a whole heap of equipment accompanied by the most enthusiastic bunch of citizen scientists and researchers?  Do you?  You should!  I recommend that you sign up to go on the waiting list immediately.

This particular September evening was rather drizzly and we walked around for ages searching bushes and lawns, shrubs and short grass until we eventually found some of our prickly nocturnal friends.  This time we were accompanied by Izzy from TimeOut magazine who had heard of the plight of central London's last hedgehog colony and came to work with us for the evening.

The Open Air Theatre was blasting out Jesus Christ Superstar as we trudged dismally through the wet grass but the sounds of singing and the feelings of 'we're going to be unlucky' faded the instant that somebody shouted 'Hog!!!!".  At this point  somebody in the group stops the prickly critter in her tracks by shining a torch on her... and if that doesn't work, a gentle nudge works wonders (!) and the hog rolls up into a compliant ball.

The group get organised and gather round to do the weighing and measuring and make sure that the hog can be identified by tiny numbered plastic tubes on their prickles.  Oh the indignity!  No, seriously, they don't care!!  And, the research team can follow the hogs and record their vital statistics season after season.

There's a particular skill to unrolling a hedgehog that's been mastered by many of the research experts.  Dr Nigel Reeve makes it look so easy.  I've now created videos of him doing this.  (The research study is licenced and if supervised and suitably protected, we are allowed to unroll hedgehogs in order to find out if they're female or male).  I can't say that I've mastered the art of unrolling hedgehogs.  Nigel has shown me any number of times.  I've watched the video that we've created about a hundred times.  Does it make any difference? No,  I have to face the fact that my hedgehog unrolling skills are limited.  I'll stick to photography.  

ps.. Hedgehogs are prickly.  Prickles hurt even through thick gloves.  They often have a thriving population of fleas.  Please leave them alone unless you're part of a licenced hedgehog research project.  


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The Wildlife Trusts

I spent a lot of time in the summer working on two projects for The Wildlife Trusts for their My Wild Life social media and poster campaign.  In doing this, I had a fantastic time working at the Centre for Wildlife Gardening in London where I met the London Wildlife Trust team and was introduced to the fabulous people who attend the Potted History sessions at CWG each week.  It's all about connecting memories with nature  Please read about the work by clicking on the link.  It's very special and I think an aspect of the Wildlife Trust's work that isn't known very well.  It should be.

I don't think that I'll ever forget the amazing Potted History participants.  I was profoundly affected by their joy in life, in each other and in nature.  Every visit to join the group was a pleasure.  Particular thanks go to Joanna for supporting me to work with the Potted History group.  I love this group of photographs.  I hope that the joy of the participants shines out of the pictures.  

These wonderful men and women look forward to their Potted History sessions each week.  Each member had stories to tell, connections to make, friendships and relationships to treasure.  I loved them.

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Young Visions  is another very special project that London Wildlife Trust support at Crane Park Island.  The amazing David Lemon works with young people from the local college.  Each young person is gaining confidence, independence and new skills as a result of being on Crane Park Island.  Again, this is is a fantastic collaboration between local providers, local people and the London Wildlife Trust.  

I really enjoyed spending time with the youngsters out in the field.  I also visited them in college  where they were working with their wonderful tutor Nuala Orton.  It was fabulous to be able to listen to and record their stories.

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