Wildlife and greenery are two of the reasons living in the ‘burbs is beginning to seem not that bad.  London has creatures, but they tend to belong to the genus revolting varmint: sewer rats, mangy urban foxes, one-legged pigeons with half a beak, the little mice that live on the underground, and Lolita the flea-ridden aggressive cat with one ear who lived in a bush outside my parents’ house for years and yowled at passers-by.  Oh, and the hairy hand-sized spider I once found in my house when I lived near a fruit-stall that shipped fruit in apparently directly from the jungle.

My garden contains a range of more palatable creatures.  We’ve been here a shade short of two years, and seen a middle-class looking fox and a huge hedgehog snuffling around at the bottom of the garden.  Then there are the birds.

I love the birds.  I give the more regular visitors names, though really I am naming the species because there are probably hundreds of them visiting and I call them all the same thing.  Our garden has so far hosted a variety of the ubiquitous Little Brown Birds that are everywhere no matter where you go across the globe.

Regular guests are Fatty and Soames, the gargantuan well-fed wood pigeons who live in the trees at the bottom of the garden.  They fall down onto the lawn every so often to feed, and then are too lazy to really put much effort into getting back up to their perch.  It is touch and go whether they will actually make it each time.  They’re named after Nicholas Soames MP, a parliamentarian of astonishing girth, who is (perhaps not so affectionately) known colloquially as ‘Fatty Soames’.  I refer the honourable reader to the answer the Independent gave when questioned about Mr. Soames a moment ago.

We also have a bunch of tits: coal tits, great tits, and blue tits.  Only the latter are interesting enough and frequent enough to deserve a name, and we call them Bert and Ernie.

I could never take a photo this good, but I don't know who did.

There’s also a Wren, who is easily the cutest bird on the block.  It’s called Tweet, and let me tell you Tweet is the Christina Aguilera of the bird world: I have no idea how something that tiny can produce a sound that big.  It’s beautiful to listen to.

Again, anonymous photo: credit - the Internet

More unusual birds we’ve been lucky enough to see in our garden are the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, doing its best to beat some steel into submission.  I’m going to open up the naming competition here because I can’t think of anything better than Woody and that’s just wrong.

Photo Credit: Derek Belsey

About every three months or so, I’ll see a jay:

Photo credit, Steve Round

We have a few chaffinches, but they’re not as great as they think they are.  Last week, and this is really quite something because these guys are fairly rare, we had a Bullfinch.

Photo Credit Ray Wilson

This is a male, but I think I saw his partner a few days previously because what looked like a tiny jay flapped past.

Then there are the robins, gang-members of bird-land, who show up any time you go into the garden and start moving things about so they can stare you down and frighten you off.

Photo credit, the Internet

There, I think I covered everyone.  Oh, no, the crows, jackdaws, and magpies.  And doves.  You get the picture: we have significant birdlife.

I like the birds and I want them in my garden (apart from the crows, jackdaws, and magpies – they can fuck off).  So I put food out to encourage them to visit.  England doesn’t really have critters that are an actual risk to you.  There might be a few mildly-poisonous snakes about, but you’re not going to find them in your garden because you left food out.

However. There is something that while cute, creates a dull ache in the rectal region if you’re interested in attracting birds.  We see these little puffballs of pain every day from our window, battling to get an unfair share of what’s left out for the little people.  Oh, they look all warm and fuzzy, but these are the greedy, grasping bankers of the animal kingdom.

Thank you, USA.

They are a menace, and not only because they’ve all but wiped out the indigenous and much more lovely Red Squirrel in the UK.  No, they have an astonishing willingness to straight-arm the entitlements of others into their gobs with nary a second thought.  They will go to extraordinary lengths.

To wit, this weekend we bought a new bird-feeding pole device.  We wondered how long it would take before the vultures-in-disguise arrived.  It took about an hour.

Photo Credit, K-man

K-man isn’t blessed with a steady hand and seemingly can’t comprehend auto-focus, but you get the idea.

This last is my favourite, because it perfectly illustrates what happens if you’re too greedy and lean out too far.  You Augustus Gloop your way four feet to the floor below, approximately two seconds after someone takes a photo of your impending doom.

I have christened this squirrel Icarus.  Hello, Icarus, I’m laughing at you! 

This weekend I’m going to grease that pole.  You may have won the battle Icarus, but you will not win the war.



3 Responses to “Icarus”

  1. 1 staciemarkcoop January 25, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    How in the world can he climb up that pole? Good luck with the greasing!

  2. 2 Jen January 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Definitely grease the pole and keep it greased. I did that a few years ago and within a few minutes of having done so, there was a dazed squirrel lying stunned on the ground, trying to force some air into its lungs. It was a great moment.

  3. 3 Jenn @ Juggling Life January 26, 2012 at 12:44 am

    That photo is hysterical.

    We don’t have the wonderful assortment of birds you have, but I have mourning doves that live in the tree outside my window in the spring. I love the description of a middle-class fox.

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