The photos were taken immediately outside the patio doors leading to the main room of the house. The hedgehogs had got so used to us by this time last winter that they would come here to feed from the cats' bowls. They were so confident or hungry that I was able to open the door and take the photo looking down on them.
The feeding hedgehogs phenomenon began about 5 years ago. The cats' bowls were at the far side of the terrace from the house. The technique of the night prowler was to put its front feet in the bowl so as to tip the food towards its snout. At night we would hear a clatter as the metal bowl fell back flat on the tiles as the hedgehog moved its front feet.
At first we noticed only one hedgehog whom we called Hercules. When we came out of the house having heard the clatter of a bowl Hercules would scuttle briskly away after pausing for just another mouthful. As the years went by Hercules acquired either a double or a partner or a much larger appetite.
Then two hedghogs appeared at the same time to feed together. It was a partner! Our cats just cleared off or watched from a distance.
Night after night at its peak in the winter months......clatter, clatter, went the bowl and outside we would go to see the fun. Sometimes I would remember my camera.
One night, returning home by car, we caught Hercules outside the garden scuttling along by the wall at a rapid rate to get out of the headlights and through the spaces of the garden gate.
He had quite a turn of speed, seeking cover out of the headlights' glare.
We await the return of the Hercules + this winter hoping they are still around.
But what did I see last Sunday night on the terrace as I went out to get logs for the stove? A fox.