Hedgehog in the Garden

This week we were surprised by a snorting sound at our Field Study Center de Schelphoek. During a walk around the building, we came across a hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). The hedgehog was most likely looking for a place to hibernate.

You may expect the hedgehog to sleep through the winter, but this is not the case. Every now and then he wakes up and investigates, for example when his sleeping place is too cold or when there are still enough insects to be found (in warm winters). The hedgehog is a protected species. However, it is sometimes difficult for the animal to find the right place to sleep; think of snail venom, tiles or fences in the garden and a too warm winter.

There are a number of simple ways to give the hedgehog a helping hand:

  • Use as few toxins as possible for pest control. You can possibly poison the hedgehog from the sprays;
  • Do you have a pond? Make a shelf with mesh so that the hedgehog can get out of the water when it falls in (a hedgehog can swim well);
  • The animal needs space, 1 backyard is not enough. Make sure he can walk to the neighbors (for example, an open area in the hedge or fence);
  • Leave the hedgehog’s nest alone in winter. If he gets up earlier in the winter, he may starve because of the scarce food available;
  • TIP: Place a hedgehog house in the garden (basket or old box) or make a house. Like this example from Natuurmonumenten, fun to do and good for nature!

Autumn in the salt marsh area

Beautiful, isn’t it, those autumn colours? The leaves fall down and have a warm orange and red colour. But not only the forests get a beautiful appearance, the salt marshes get a red autumn colour.



This is due to samphire. This plant grows on saline soil such as in the Prunje nature reserve next to our accommodation in Zeeland. Samphire turns red because the leaves of the plant store salt. The more salt they hold, the redder they become.

A wonderful moment for a walk, don’t you think? Who knows, you might even spot a spoonbill or common tern.

Dolphin spotted in the Oosterschelde

This month an interesting animal was spotted in the Oosterschelde, a dolphin! You can regularly see the porpoise swimming along in the Oosterschelde, but you rarely see dolphins. According to SOS dolphin, it is a bottlenose dolphin. Watch the video of Omroep Zeeland here.

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is known for its intelligence. They are social animals that often hunt in groups. By means of echolocation, the animals finds its way in the water and communicates with the other dolphins. This dolphin probably lost its group and ended up in the Oosterschelde. Hopefully the animal has returned to the North Sea via the Easters Scheldt barrier, because food for dolphins is scarce in the Oosterschelde.

Marine mammals that we regularly spot during trawls or dike zoning in Zeeland are the gray seal and the harbor porpoise (the smallest whale that lives in the North Sea).

Fieldwork is Doing!

As a foundation, we stand for fieldwork. Why do we think this is important? Students work in groups in which they set up their own research. This is done as follows: students make a research plan, collect data and write a research report or make a presentation. This stimulates their own motivation; they investigate something that they have come up with themselves.


Fieldwork is introduced during the “postentocht”, which is conducted at the start of the fieldwork project. At each location there is a supervisor or QR-video who/that shows the fieldwork techniques. The student then practices with the fieldwork materials. During the tour, students learn about abiotic (salt content) and biotic factors (animal species). It also explains what kind of research you can perform and what the best locations are for collecting the data.

Which fieldwork themes do we introduce?

There are several tests that students can perform. Each fieldwork location offers different research opportunities. Nevertheless, there are a number of main themes that are offered at all centers, these are soil, vegetation and water research. Examples of other fieldwork topics are insects, dike, birds, bats, etc.

Are you curious what such a post looks like and how the theme is introduced? Then watch the video below. Kasper, our colleague, shows you how to conduct water research!

Bubble Blower

Our photographer, Appie Bonis, has put this blow-fly in the spotlight. The blow-fly was doing something interesting; it was blowing bubbles. But why?

The blow-fly blows bubbles to lose heat. Blowflies often release a liquid bubble between its mouthparts and then brings it back in… Because some liquid evaporates, the drop cools quickly, and then the fly takes it in again. How cool is that?!