I was inspired by a story by fellow Qyper Amethyst in her blog, Life on the Edge, about a fox visiting her garden recently.
Now, you may not think that Earl's Court is a particular haven for wildlife, but you'd be wrong. For a start, the various garden squares are havens for birds and insects of all kinds, and I don't just mean pigeons: there are blackbirds, song-thrushes, blue-tits and coal-tits, sparrows, the odd magpie, and even nightingales. The pigeon family is well represented too, with wood-pigeons and collared doves as well as the ubiquitous common pigeon.
There are plenty of mammals, too, though some of these are less welcome. There is a resident rat population, which comes and goes depending on how well the sewers are baited with poison, some of whom took up residence for a while in the garden square I live on. That's not so nice, although I'm now quite so freaked out by them as others, so long as they stay outside!
The discarded take-aways of visitors and bread put down (misguidedly, in my view, by some residents for the birds means that the rats always look well fed, and quite sizeable. I used to see them running around at night at one end of the square, seemingly oblivious of my presence.
Rats attract cats, of course, and although most are pets, I suspect, you still see then prowling stealthily around at night as well. In the air, at the right time of year, you hear the rapid flapping and squeaks of bats, which I think are particularly welcome: they eat their own body-weight in mosquitoes and other irritating insects every few days. Much better than a spray!
But it is the foxes that make the biggest impression. In theory, they are supposed to be quite shy of humans, but I've seen one trotting along the opposite platform of West Brompton railway station in daylight and full view of dozens of passengers, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Another time, my other half and I were startled to see a fox racing along Warwick Gardens at full tilt, chased in hot pursuit by a small terrier, his owner valiantly bringing up the rear!
At night, of course, foxes can make the most dreadful wailing and screaming sounds, eerily human in voice. But I confess that, nuisance though they can be, I'd rather have that than live in a sterile environment.