Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Millie the Fox

Hello again.
I promised an up-to-date picture of Dodo, but every time Rossi has fed him today, I've been busy doing something else, and forgot to get the picture, until Dodo was fast asleep in his bed tonight. I'll try harder tomorrow!
No sound from Millie at the hedgehog's nest, but that is a good sign, so we'll be patient and keep waiting.
Our friend Beth from the Hartland Wildlife Rescue has a pet fox (one which was rescued) and she is called Millie. I thought you would all like to share this lovely picture.
Work still continues at the CFZ, preparing for the start of the Weird Weekend which kicks off with a Cocktail Party tomorrow night. For more information on the Weird Weekend visit or simply type Weird Weekend into Google and all will be revealed.
More news tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Millie's new hoglets!!

Yes, Millie is a Mum again! Frantic collecting of hay etc. on Sunday and today Millie definately has baby hoglets, but we shall not disturb them, we will wait and see how things progress. We will keep you posted.
We are really busy here at Hill Top. The shippen conversion is going well. Roof completely off and new floor well on its way etc.
We had a real surprise today as cousin Eva from Evesham called in to say hello. The boys were keen for her to try out the new woodland play area and as you can see, she's a dab hand at the monkey bars! She also met all the animals, including our redfoot tortoise.
Everyone at the CFZ is working really hard preparing for the Weird Weekend. Dave, Ross & Greg are all at Jon's this afternoon helping. The annual Weird Weekend starts this Friday - it is an event you should not miss!
Dodo is really growing and doing so well. We will post a new picture up tomorrow.
Bye for now.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Curly Carrots!

Hi everyone!
Following our last blog (and apologies for the delay in writing), Angel the baby pigeon died today. It's always an ongoing battle with the wildlife, but the boys keep the animals warm and fed and persevere to give them the best chance. Angel had done so well this last week but yesterday went very quiet and sadly she died today. However, Dodo is doing really well - his feathers are coming now and we'll post another picture in a few days.
Greg has grown some carrots of his own from seed this summer and at the weekend he pulled them up. Greg wanted you to see his curly carrot!
Work has started on our new holiday let - once a shippen, at the rear of Walland Farm. As you can see all the boys (only two pictured here) are helping Roy. The roof and floor have been totally demolished in a few days.
Greg says a special message for his cousin Eva in Evesham: - "The carrot isn't as nice tasting as the maltesers at Christmas Mrs.Santa!"
Watch out for another update tomorrow. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

New Addition at Hill Top

Hello everyone!
Sadness on Saturday as our last surving hoglet named Angel died. The boys had done everything they could to save her, but it was not meant to be.
On a happier note, Beth of the Hartland Wildlife rescue rang yesterday to say that she had another rescue baby pigeon, about 2-3 weeks old (older than Dodo), and would the boys like to look after this one too! Well, they are thrilled with the new edition, who they have named Angel (after their little hoglet).
Angel loves to sit on Rossi's finger and both she and Dodo are really doing well. Angel is pictured above and Dodo below.
It's fascinating to watch how Dodo is turning into a lovely pigeon - we keep thinking of the Ugly Duckling story! When they go into their nice warm box, they cuddle up together, it's really lovely to think we're helping these little creatures.
The Weird Weekend is getting closer. It's set to be another great weekend for all.
More news tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Hello. Today has brought sadness and happiness to Hill Top. This morning the boys were up at the crack of dawn feeding the hoglets. They were both girls and were named Lucky and Angel. They have fed really well during the day, but this evening Lucky began jumping, almost like fitting, and then sadly she died at about 9pm. Angel fed again tonight, but these first few days are the most difficult and we just pray that Angel will survive.
On a different note, Roy came home from work with a baby pigeon that someone had given to him. He was rejected from the nest and had been rescued by some children.
He is really small and at first glance he looked like a duck, but Beth confirmed that it is a baby pigeon. He is feeding really well and is kept with the hoglet in a warm box by the aga. Ross and Greg have called him DoDo!
I don't know if you remember the story of the seal spotted off Lundy Island on my blog of the 18th of June - we were appealing for help. Apparently this picture is now on the front page of today's North Devon Journal. I haven't seen it yet, but let's hope someone can help free him from the fishing net.
More great updates tomorrow. Goodnight from everyone at Hill Top.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Millie's Hoglets!

Hello everyone.
Early evening, around 6pm there were horrible, loud, hissing noises coming from the hedgehog nest. A hedgehog had been seen out late this afternoon collecting hay etc. but had gone back into the nest. We took the lid off and realised that Millie had given birth to three hoglets. One was already half eaten by one of the males and the others were being attacked. We managed to rescue two - both having been bitten. In the past we had put the pregnant mum in a separate cage to have her babies, but this time there had been no time. It was a case of leaving them in the nest, where they would undoubtedly have been eaten (as one of them had already been) or rescuing them and hand rearing them. We chose the latter.
The hoglets were very cold and Ross and Greg have been holding them to keep them warm this evening. They have just now had their second feed tonight. They have warmed up beautifully and are currently in a cardboard box, in a lovely soft warm bed, beside the aga. It seems we have two girls.
Ross and Greg are thinking of names and will let you know tomorrow. We shall continue with regular feeds and hope they make it through the night, as they were very cold and in shock.
There's never a dull moment here at Hill Top. More Tails tomorrow.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Woodland Playground

Hello again. We thought you might like to see the completed woodland playground.
This is just where the moth trapping took place last week with Jon and Max from the CFZ.
Today the weather has been brighter and we are still really busy.
Today Ross and Greg have been moving Scratchy (the Russian Dwarf Hamster or Winter White as they are known) to a much bigger cage, so now Scratchy thinks he's living in a castle, with lots of rooms!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Any one for Tennis!

We have been really busy here at Hill Top over the last few days. We have had some wonderful guests from the UK and from Sweden and Austria.
Ross has been really busy in the Mini Zoo, it is looking lovely now, with the new fish tanks completed.
We thought you might like to meet Hattie.
Hattie belongs to my sister Lorraine - who lives just around the corner - and she is a twenty-one month old Sprocker (a cross between a Springer and a Cocker Spaniel). She has a really loving, gentle nature about her and she is very friendly. She loves to catch the tennis ball and when she
ran off with Greg's racket, we just had to catch her on camera!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Heavy Rain Again

Hello and welcome to Hill Top Tails. Following the enjoyable evening moth trapping, the weather has been really miserable, with very heavy rain. The animals are all fine, the birds all in the indoor aviary and the hedgehogs are all content (as you can see from the picture), snuggled up in their box.
Dave has been up with Jon at the CFZ. Everyone at the CFZ is really busy preparing for this year's Weird Weekend, to be held on the 14th, 15th and 16th of August. An event certainly not to be missed. We'll catch up more tomorrow night.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Beautiful Moths

Following my blog last Tuesday, and the Moth Trapping evening with Jon and Max from the CFZ, we would like to share a few of the photographs with you. It was a fantastic evening, and we plan to repeat it again, very soon.
I supplied everyone with jacket potatoes at about 11.30 pm, and then it was a busy evening, which wound up at just after 3 am. A great time was had by all.
Everyone was hoping the Beast of Bucks would raise its head, but only the sheep in neighbouring fields were heard.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Moth Trapping

Hello everyone. Whilst we have had dreadful weather for the last few days, today has really brightened up. This evening it is so calm and peaceful that Jon and Max from the CFZ (Centre for Fortean Zoology) have come down to do some moth trapping this evening. It really is great fun and you get to see some fantastic moths, which you never even knew existed!
Firstly the mercury vapour lamp, which attracts moths, was set up in our woodland area, near the wooden playground.
Then Greg mixed up treacle in warm water, and as you can see in the picture, he then used a paint brush to paint some on the trees near the moth trap, again to attract the moths. It wasn't long before the moths started to arrive in swarms. Max and Greg were busy catching them in the nets, they were then identified by Jon, and Rossi kept a notepad and recorded the times, species etc. Then each moth was photographed and released.
What a fantastic experience - unbelievable to see all the activity around the mercury vapour light.
The first moth to be caught was a Swallow Tail, followed by a Devon Carpet.
We'll give you a full report tomorrow night. But for now, we'll continue to watch and record the happenings of the night - this will no doubt go on into the early hours of tomorrow.
Thank you for reading our blog, we'll be back tomorrow.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly


Sad news today I'm afraid. Mrs.Tiggywinkle's hoglets were all found dead this morning just outside the nest. There were in fact four hoglets, but they have all died. We'll never really know the reasons why.

Following my blog entry on the 30th of June, which showed a picture of a dragonfly, which had been in our conservatory. We asked if anyone knew what kind of dragonfly it was.

Peter of The British Dragonfly Society kindly emailed us and said: -

"Your dragonfly is a female Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) - the male has a blue abdomen. They spend about two years as larvae in still water and then live for a few weeks as adults. Apart from when breeding the females tend not to visit water very often".

Thank you for that Peter. We shall continue to look out for Dragonflies, and will no doubt be in touch again.

More Hill Top Tails tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Meet Fungus the Roborovski Hamster

Hello and welcome back to Hill Top Tails.
Everything is quiet with the hedgehogs/hoglets today. It has been really hot, so the hedgehogs have been peaceful and sleeping all day, but the canaries have been singing non-stop in the outdoor aviary.
Meet Fungus, our Roborovski Hamster. She is approximately four months old and was adopted from a local pet store. She is really tiny and is a joy to wach on her wheel. She runs so fast that she is thrown out of the wheel and she does it again and again and again!!

Roborovski hamsters are the the smallest and fastest of all hamsters. They can live up to 2 - 3 and a half years.
They are curious hamsters. Although their suitability as pets are further diminished by their size and speed, Roborovskis are extremely affectionate towards each other. Their social nature means that when housed together at an early age, they sleep in one place and indeed eat, play etc. together.
Roborovskis grow to about 4 - 5cm long, have bullet shaped bodies and very long hind legs for fast running. An ordinary hamster cage is no good for a Roborovski, they need a cage with really narrow gaps between the bars, or they will escape.
Fungus is fascinating to watch and a really enjoyable.
The British Dragonfly Society are going to identify our Dragonfly (see yesterday's blog), so we will let you know all about it tomorrow. They have a great website, see for more useful information.
We'll be back again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Three Hoglets!

Welcome back. This morning there are three hoglets outside the nest. They're really gorgeous, small and plump, lots of spikes and their eyes closed. They're all tucked up in the nest with Mrs.Tiggywinkle tonight.
Today a large dragonfly came into the conservatory. We don't know much about dragonflies. Does anyone know what kind this is? We'd like to know.
The weather has again been really nice today, but the pollen count must be very high, as the boys are suffering from their hayfever badly tonight.
We received a lovely email from Jan Whittington, who has the baby bat which Ross rescued from school, she says, "My goodness how she has grown! She has got very used to me handling her and although she shouts at me when I first pick her up, she settles very quickly and eats like there is no tomorrow! She does get m/w juice all over the place, so when we have finished feeding (about 3 times a day) I wet a tissue and wash her face. She seems to enjoy this pampering and finishes up looking really good. I found she had difficulty cleaning round the places her tongue wouldn't reach!She stretches her wings every day so I shall have to start flying her soon so she gets the proper exercise. I have just (yesterday) picked up another baby just like she was and am feeding that one every 3 hours. It just has goats milk at the moment. It looks like a Whiskered too but it is difficult to be sure, it's so small. If it is, then I shall introduce them when they are both weaned properly and they can share their home and talk to each other!"
More tales tomorrow. Thank you for reading.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Mrs.Tiggywinkle's Baby

Hello everyone. Apologies for not writing our blog for a few days, but we have been visiting Nanny Braund daily at Exeter Hospital, so we have got rather behind, but the good news is that she has come home, back to Walland Farm, with us all today.

Great news, on Friday Mrs.Tigglywinkle, one of our four hedgehogs, started to make a nest. Rossi and Roy moved her from the Barn Owl aviary into an area on her own and on Saturday and Sunday we heard or saw nothing of her. This morning I went to open the Mini Zoo door and to my great excitement, there just outside the nesting box was a hoglet, really tiny, eyes closed, just wandering around. With some hay, we carefully picked up the hoglet and put it back in the box with Mrs.Tiggywinkle, keen not to disturb them. The hoglet was really healthy and everyone here at Hill Top can't wait until the baby surfaces in a week or two, but how many are there? Can't wait to find out - we'll keep you informed. Here is a picture of the little hoglet - thought to be between 24 and 48 hrs old.

On another note, a barn owl note, part of an egg shell was found outside Bracken and Dreamer's nesting box. Are there any owlets? Dreamer is very aggressive, so it could be. We will not disturb them, we will let you know as soon as we see anything.

We'll be back to our daily blog now Nanny Braund is home, so keep reading.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Spot the Squirrel!

Hello again.

Did anyone know the name of the flower we found yesterday?

Today the weather has been really hot and the canaries have been enjoying their new indoor/outdoor cage.

We've had several squirrels on the front lawn. One of them is a really small baby squirrel, but it was much too fast to photograph. Can you spot the squirrel in this picture?
Still no sign of owlets. We keep listening, but as soon as we hear or see anything we will let you know.
More stories tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Cool Canaries

Welcome back. Today started very early for us. At 3.10 a.m. Rossi woke up to notice that the fish tank in his bedroom had about an inch left of water in it. His bedroom floor was flooded and so was the small lounge below his bedroom. The tank, for some unknown reason, produced a large crack in the bottom. It was a rush to rescue the fish and put them in another tank and then clear up all the water.
It's been a really busy day, with the usual cleaning out of the animals, but today we opened up the new small aviary for the canaries. They can stay inside now, or go outside, the choice is theirs. They were certainly cool today. They all decided to explore and come out, so it was really nice to see them enjoying the fresh air and singing with a neighbouring Robin.
We have been busy planting the teacups and then we discovered a small purple flower, with a yellow centre. Does anyone know the name of this flower? We would like to know.
Much more news tomorrow. Thank you for reading our Blog.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Rossi's Whiskered Bat

Hello everyone.

We thought you might just like to see how Rossi's rescued Bat is getting on. Janice, who is looking after the Bat sent this picture. She says, "It is dinner time and she is covered in mealworm juice. She spent the next few hours licking it all off and grooming."
It's lovely to see that she is doing well.
Back tomorrow with more stories.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Can Someone Please Help This Seal?

Hello everyone and welcome back - sorry we have missed a couple of days, but Nanny Braund is still very ill in Hospital.

Firstly, great news on the Bat which Rossi rescued from school last week. Janice Whittington of Tarka Ecology who is looking after our bat, with others which she has rescued, has said today that "The little bat is doing well so far. She won't feed herself yet but is eating about 3 - 4 squeezed out mealworms each feed and has goats milk also. She gets m/w juice all over her face but washes herself and is always clean again next time I feed her." This is great news. We will give you further updates, as we receive them.

Secondly, Beth at the Hartland Wildlife Rescue sent me this picture of a seal which has been spotted around Lundy Island, over the last 2-3 years. The RSPCA have been informed, and apparently did not know where Lundy Island was and said they would send a driver out to check it out!!! (We wonder which road they will take!) Someone needs to help this seal to free it from the net. Can anyone help?

Everything is good here at Hill Top. We have some wonderful American visitors staying for a few days, they are lovely people and really enjoying North Devon.

Dreamer is still sitting on three eggs, so we are all getting excited - probably about another two weeks to go!

Speak to you again tomorrow. Bye from all at Hill Top.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sign of Spring

Welcome back to another good day at Hill Top.

Today everyone has been really busy. Rossi has been cleaning out the Mini Zoo and today we have moved Millie back into the cage with the other three hedgehogs. The lawns have been cut and the driveway strimmed and the weather has been fantastic. The view across the bay is really stunning.
The Bat Rossi rescued from school is doing fine. Beth from the Hartland Wildlife Rescue took the Bat to see a Bat expert called Jan near Torrington. She said the Bat was a girl and that it was a Whiskered Bat and so the Bat was left with Jan, to be with other bats of the same kind. The Whiskered bat has shaggy fur that can be a dark brown, greyish brown or light brown on its back and a dark or light grey on its underside. The nose, ears and wing membranes are all a blackish brown in colour. The Whiskered bat is very similar to the Brandt’s bat in appearance but tends to generally be slightly darker.

Really exciting news about the The Barn Owls. When we found the empty egg shell on the floor we felt really sad as we thought there were no more, but today we had a look and Dreamer is stitting on three eggs. We will keep you updated.
Keep watching our Blog for more stories of life at Hill Top.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Bracken & Dreamer's Surprise!

Welcome back again!

Yesterday when Rossi went into the aviary to feed the Barn Owls he discovered a cracked egg on the floor. Now we are wondering if there is an owlet or even eggs in the nest. It is cleaning day for the owls today, so maybe we will have more news tonight!
Today we are moving Millie back with the other hedgehogs and it's cleaning day in the Mini Zoo.
It's beautiful weather here at Hill Top Holidays - Roy is putting the last piece of equipment into the playground. Dave has been busy at Rosemoor Gardens doing the lighting for a charity performance by Elkie Brooks, which was said to be a fantastic performance last night.
Back again later.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Millie's Hoglet Dies

Welcome back everyone. We apologise for not writing our blog for a few days, but Nanny Braund has been really poorly.
Firstly, some really sad news. On Sunday Millie was out and about, but there was no sign of her hoglet. We listened, but there was nothing. We decided that we ought to see if the hoglet was alive, or not, and so we asked Beth for some advice. Beth came over (see picture) and sadly we found Millie's hoglet in the bed, and it appears that she had been squashed/suffocated by Millie, which apparently is quite common. Everyone here at Hill Top was really sad, as we had so wanted Millie's hoglet to live, but it was not to be. At the weekend we will move Millie back in with the other hedgehogs again.
Today has been quite exciting with Rossi bringing home a baby bat from school. The baby bat had been found by one of the teachers in a room and was on its own and helpless. Ross kept the baby bat warm and we took it to Beth at the Harltand Wildlife Rescue. Beth had a nice warm box (see picture) and this evening she confirmed that he has been eating - we will keep you updated on his progress.
We'll be back again tomorrow with news about Bracken and Dreamer, our Barn Owls - thank you for reading.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cucumber Green Spider

Hello again. Today the weather has been miserable - raining all day. Rossi has spent the morning cleaning the animals out in the mini zoo and Greg has been helping Roy with the woodland playground. This will soon be finished now.

Today we saw Millie out and tomorrow we hope to see her baby for the first time. We are hoping to have some pictures tomorrow.
Jon at the CFZ says that the spider in this picture is a Cucumber spider.
The Cucumber green spider (Araniella cucurbitina) is a spider of the Araneidae family. Females grow up to 8 mm, males only up to 5 mm. The spider is mainly found on forest clearings, where it weaves its orb-web between leaves and flowers. These webs are only about 10 cm in diameter.
This spider does not use a hideout, because it is camouflaged by its green colour. Adult spiders first show this colour in spring. Freshly hatched spiderlings are red and change to brown until autumn. On the end of the abdomen there is a red mark in adults.
These spiders occur in the Palearctic, although it can be found in parts of North America, where it was probably introduced.
Yesterday, when Greg was coming home from school, a roe deer ran across the driveway, into the small woodland, but we didn't have a chance to take a photo. The camera is ready and waiting for when it shows its face again!
Thank you for your lovely comments on the Winter White hamster - much appreciated.
More updates on Millie and her hoglet tomorrow. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Meet Scratchy

Hello and welcome back to Hill Top Tails. Again it has been a great day weatherwise - the view here at Walland Farm is quite breath-taking.
Beth from the Hartland Wildlife Rescue called in today. She had four baby hedgehogs, which were rescued and she is now hand rearing them - all less than a week old, and she also had an injured baby housemartin. It's spring, all the young are arriving, and this is the time of year when she gets really busy.
Introducing you to Scratchy - another member of the Mini Zoo. Scratchy is Greg's Russian Dwarf Hamster or Winter-White - he/she is grey in colour with a dorsal stripe during the summer and turns almost entirely white in the winter.
Dwarf Winter White Russian Hamsters are approximately 8-10cm in length when full grown with males being larger than females. They have expandable cheek pouches. Russian Hamsters have furry feet and are sometimes referred to as the Furry or Hairy Footed Hamster.
Scratchy is fascinating to watch, especially as he changes colour - we all thought that perhaps he was getting old and that was why he turned white, but this spring he turned back to his grey!
Scratchy will take food from you and likes to climb upside down on the bars of his cage.
Work on the woodland playground is still continuing and hopefully it will be finished at the weekend.
Does anyone know what the spider is that was on our blog of Sunday the 31st of May?
Thanks for joining us, we'll be back with more stories tomorrow.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Harold of Hill Top Holidays!

Hello everyone, and what fantastic weather we have had today.

Update on Millie - she is doing well, coming out for her food and we have heard noises, so we are pretty certain that everything is going well with the baby hoglet.
John at the CFZ was really miffed, as yesterday Greg had caught on camera a Devon Painted Lady butterfly - he's been trying to capture one on camera this last week and Greg (Jon's Godson) beat him to it!
Now, to introduce you to Harold. Harold was born on the 25th of July, 1962. Harold was a necessity and we purchased him on the 27th of June, 2007 and the following day he was christened Harold of Hill Top Holidays!
Yes, you've guessed, Harold is our 1962 Fordson Super Dexta Tractor. Harold has been great fun, we couldn't manage without him. We had him taxed and number plated up last year and he has been delivering logs in the winter, he tows the caravans in and out and Harold is used for cutting the fields. Harold is pictured here with Dave driving him and cutting the grass yesterday. As you can see, Dave is dressed for the occasion! Rossi was also cutting the grass yesterday - probably chasing Dave and Harold - Ross coming up the rear on Mervyn the ride-on-mower!
There really never is a dull day here at Hill Top.
Back with more updates tomorrow. Thank you for reading our Blog.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Butterfly Mania!

Welcome back to Hill Top. We have had a couple of days off, so apologies for not updating our blog, but we are back!
The weather has been so warm this weekend that we have had lots of butterflies here at Hill Top. Greg decided that he wanted to catch some of the butterflies, identify them and then release them. He filled a pop up cage with various greenery and some stones and then set out with his butterly net and book. He had great fun and caught two different species.
Later Greg discovered a green spider - if anyone knows what kind of spider this is please let us know.
Work continued on the woodland playground and tomorrow we will introduce you to Harold.