Our lovely friend Hugh Warwich aka “Hedgehog Hugh” has done it again. Another cracking book extolling the virtues of native wild animals, in the words of their passionate ambassadors. In an attempt to see if any animal can be an equal to his beloved hedgehogs, Hugh travels the length and breadth of UK meeting a diverse collection of animal mad Britons. There’s Amy who loves moths, and Kate Long, the novelist, also known as “Vole woman” who can watch them for hours. 90 year old Denis had a full time career in ICI but developed an expertise in sparrows on the way; Paul lives in a castle and has let beavers loose on Scottish estate with astonishing results; whilst Gareth, the mid Wales Badger man really sees badgers as part of his family. Mimi, the otter advocate swears by the smell of their droppings so much, she sends Hugh some in the post, Gordon the toad shaman dances with toad spirits. There are many more besides, a fascinating collection of characters and the animals they adore.
I once entertained aspirations to be an ecologist, but the nearest I got to it was traipsing round York misidentifying the local flora. This book makes me want to adopt a local mammal immediately and spend my nights in fields getting wet and close to nature. I probably won’t but I enjoyed the inspiration.
Hugh’s enthusiasm for the natural world, wit and knowledge make this an entertaining and accessible read. He’s “a modern day Johnny Morris” according to the Hay Festival. I can’t disagree.