A London Heron and others

The grey heron is a familiar site in London and indeed in Bristol where I live now. This one was fishing at Chiswick House last month. They roost high in the trees and make large nests in colonies, though when they are full grown they are quite solitary. They are reknowned for emptying ornamental ponds of fish, but I think they are extraordinary looking birds, I love to see them fly ponderously across the skies, reminding me that birds are directly descended from dinosaurs.

and here is a resourceful coot, recycling rubbish,  on the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens…

Here is Zeb’s sworn enemy – the urban fox cruising the back lane that runs up behind our house and peeking through the trellis from a few years back. The tags are courtesy of Bristol University which has a long running urban fox study going back years. Some of the foxes have radio collars on as well.

What wildlife do you have in your local towns and cities? I’d love to hear from you!

17 thoughts on “A London Heron and others

  1. heidiannie

    We have beavers and foxes and blue herons, and HUGE gaggles of Canadian Geese.
    Deer and coyotes, badgers, woodchucks (groundhogs), black, grey and red squirrels,
    possums, skunks, and peregrine falcons nesting in the highest buildings . There are probably more that I missed- this list is what I have seen in the last few years.
    OH- and wild turkeys that congregate in my back yard and make a real fuss when they come up against the fence.
    I truly wish the coyotes would thin the geese groupings down a bit. They are everywhere and leave behind a terrible mess. I don’t even walk across the grass near ponds and the creek anymore- you can’t step without coating the bottom of your shoes with their poo!

  2. Choclette

    Fantastic photographs – I love to see herons too. All we see here on a regular basis in our little town are the flocks of Canada Geese flying over in the evenings.

  3. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    We have white ibises and flying foxes, both to pest levels unfortunately. And we’ve just started seeing foxes in the area – a reason why our chickens continue to be safely in a large coop! Hmm…what else…cormorans, kookaburras, rosellas, cockatoos and yesterday a brush-tailed possum ran across the road in front of my car!

  4. cityhippyfarmgirl

    That cheeky fox! Perched up there. I know they can be a pest, but he looks cute, looking at the camera with those big brown eyes…and very resourceful bird, on its very own floating island.
    Round here…hmm, possums, 3 types of cockatoos, the ever present ibis, and fruit bats. Not so exciting for wild life in the city, but I love them. (Next week I’ll be going to an area that frequently has kangaroos splashing on the edge of the water at the beach.)

  5. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Heidi – What a great list :) I’ve seen some of them in Canada, but we don’t have anything like a groundhog or a possum here, not in the city. Hedgehogs are rare now, the more hedges that get taken out and replaced with walls and gardens too with hard standing have a real effect on the diversity of the species that co-exist with us in the city.

    Choclette – I hadn’t thought about it but I’ve never seen Canadian geese in Bristol. Hmm..

    Hi Celia – I would love to see flying foxes and possums! :) Do the ibises come into your garden, I didn’t know they were a pest animal?

    @ Brydie – we have foxes coming everyday at the moment. They walk down the streets in daylight and if people notice them they think they are dogs, especially the ones with collars on. It would be great to see cockatoos and wild kangaroos, the odd escaped parrot is about it :)

    1. cityhippyfarmgirl

      I’m truly amazed that there are so many foxes in your area. Has it always been like that? Have numbers increased in recent years? Are people bothered by them (if they realise it is a fox.)
      About the ibis, they can be a bit of a pest as they are such scavengers. Sneakily take whole biscuits from Little Monkey’s (who are less than impressed.)

      1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

        My part of Bristol is a historic urban fox stronghold. Info site here. The foxes hold territories, so in fact the numbers don’t increase that much, as the kits are driven off once they get to adulthood. Apart from teasing the dogs, they are not too bad, they dig up bulbs sometimes and scent mark everywhere and because many people feed them, they have lost their fear of people which I am not sure is such a good thing. They get sarcoptic mange, which caused a population crash back in the nineties, and they get in car accidents and so on. They are popular animals in cities, less so in the countryside of course.

        Your ibis sound a bit like the pelicans you find on some Greek islands who march up and down the aisles in the tavernas begging for food :) You probably have them too ?

        1. cityhippyfarmgirl

          That really is such a good photo and looks good as your header.
          Thanks for that link, it seems that we have them in our cities as well…who knew! I’ve never heard any mention of them. It’s really an animal I associate with hunting in England, introduced here- and a pest for many Australian farmers.
          Pelicans we have as well, but am yet to see any that are that comfortable with begging in food places. Ibis, black swans and seagulls are the more aggressive in my area. That’s the problem with feeding wild animals they keeping wanting more.

          1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

            Hi Brydie, it’s not a permanent header, it’s a featured image, so goes along with the specific blog post. I couldn’t usurp Zeb’s place, I would have to call it Foxie Bakes, sounds a bit ‘X’ rated. ;)

            I have no problem about feeding wild birds in the garden and in fact our RSPB advocates all year round feeding for birds now to counterbalance the stresses that they are under. The fox site says it is ok to feed the foxes, only not hand feed them. I never do on account of the dogs. Though I have heard young foxes playing in the garden with the dogs’ squeaky toys once. Associating humans with food, some animals are useful to us and get domesticated, others don’t and depending on their subsequent behaviour and how they impinge on us, are either classed as pest or not. Seagulls in Cornwall swoop down and steal your icecreams as you walk along the street, that’s a bit frightening! We recently had a good tv series on our domestic animals, pigs, cattle, chickens and so on. I think it was called ‘The Secret Life of the Pig’ and so on, which looked at domestication. If you get it, it might be interesting to watch. I’m enjoying our chat :)

            1. cityhippyfarmgirl

              Foxie Bakes eh?…I like it!
              I was talking to Mr Chocolate last night about the foxes and he said he had seen one near our very large local park first thing in the morning at the start of the year. Obviously, I just need to get out more, (as I hadn’t heard of them being in the cities.) That really made me smile, the thought of the young foxes playing with dog toys :-)
              Seagulls swooping for icecream- very annoying. My kids would be very unimpressed.
              I’ll look out for that program…

  6. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    Did you ever read A A Milne’s poem ‘The Three Foxes’ as a kid? It’s accessible here from the same book as that one that Kermit immortalised – Halfway down the Stairs, Is a stair where I sit…. The book is called ‘When we very young’.

    Anyway the three little foxes are famous for keeping their handkerchiefs in cardboard boxes, and I think of them when I see the foxes rooting around in the recycling boxes left out for collection :)

    1. cityhippyfarmgirl

      The poem was vaguely familiar, (I was never big on A.A Milne, just lack of exposure not dislike.) but very cute. I’m going to try and learn it for The Monkeys. They like the odd recital :-)

  7. Jacqueline

    Lovely photo of the heron! So graceful. In Canberra we have kangaroos hopping down the street. Really- I live about 1 minute’s walk from the bush (well, the whole city is close to the bush), and early in the morning I often see big Eastern Greys hopping their way back up the road towards the trees.

    The really annoying thing is POSSUMS (the common brush-tail) which eat anything and everything in the garden- I either have to cover my vegetables and herbs with bird netting, or fence the whole patch with chicken wire. This year they ate all my parsley and broccoli in a single night.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thanks for dropping by Jacqueline! What are those kangaroos doing in the city at night? All night drinking? I guess you get used to seeing them, but it sounds so strange!

      I just looked up possums as lots of people are mentioning them. They look cute but they sound very clever and determined. I remember seeing a doc years ago about the Australian cane toad and all the problems with introduced species. The nearest problem we have here is really with grey squirrels, which can be very destructive and if they get into buildings, garages, roof spaces and so on tend to eat through all the wiring systems of the house. The native red squirrel, is now an endangered species, is only found in a few parts of the UK, one population on Brownsea Island, a small population in the Lake District and also in Scotland. Hugh Fearnley-W advocates eating grey squirrels; the thought makes some people unhappy.

      Here is a pic of a red squirrel where Michael used to live in the Lake District Red Squirrel in The Lake District

  8. Gabriel

    I live in a smallish Canadian village called Vankleek Hill, between Montreal and Ottawa.

    For the past ten years a Great Blue Heron has been showing up in my village to snack on the outdoor koi and goldfish ponds… it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones. It always leaves fish heads behind.

    We’re also surrounded by coyotes, a few wolves and foxes, Canadian lynx (a cooler version of the bobcat), moose, beavers, ducks, deer and the occasional bear. But mostly the wild-wildlife here consists of raccoons, porcupines, groundhogs, skunks, fishers (large weasels), Canada Geese and wild turkeys that both graze in the corn fields, black and grey squirrels, chipmunks, a few different types of hawks… and, of course, the field mice wintering in my basement walls.

    Those are wonderful photos of your fox.

  9. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

    You have the most fantastic wildlife in Canada Gabriel! I used to visit a friend who lived in Edmonton, Alberta and she took me to the Rockies one time where I met the coyotes and the mountain sheep. I saw a porcupine up a tree one time there, and I’ve glimpsed beaver swimming down river, and redwinged blackbirds and those little guys who sit like they’re in prayer in the morning sun, by the entrances to their burrows, groundhogs, prairie dogs? The animals and birds make you realise almost more than anything that you are somewhere else entirely. I would love to see a Great Blue Heron and wolves are a distant memory in this country. Thank you for visiting, I appreciate it :)

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