Not long after I'd found the nest I made another discovery. A young hedgehog had fallen into our cattlestop at the front gate. I armed myself with a pair of gardening gloves and lifted him out thinking he'd make a great portrait subject. I lined an ice-cream container with dried leaves and grass and placed him in it on his back still tightly curled into a ball. I put my camera on a tripod and waited for him to uncurl. When he opened up I got some great shots, he looked so cute blinking in the sunlight.
Then I had an uncomfortable thought... hedgehogs are actually a pest, preying on the eggs and young of gound-nesting birds just like the skylarks! So if I am to call myself a true conservationist I must dispose of him. BUT HOW? I could drop him in a bucket of water but that would be far too cruel. Besides I think hedgehogs can swim. I could take him to the vet and get him euthanised but that would be too expensive and I'd feel pretty stupid sitting in the waiting room. I could shoot him with a shotgun but that would be far too messy. (Images of jam and toothpicks spring to mind.) I had to come up with another option so I put the hedgehog on the ground and went inside to have a coffee and think about it. When I went back after my coffee lo and behold, the hedgehog was gone!
About a few days later I went back to the skylarks nest and there were two chicks, beautifully camouflaged with feathers that looked like dried grass growing out of their heads. I wondered what happened to the other two eggs...hedgehog omelettes perhaps?