Christine Grahame: Things get wild when I sit quietly

Now of course you and I know it is winter, but the wummin at the Beeb thinks we are just moving into autumn.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 10:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 11:51 am

There I was, adding time to my day to scrape the car (twice), when one of them commented as temperatures fell to ten degrees in London, that autumn was on its way.

Tell that to my garden. The temperature may be in double figures in London but the crisp frost on the grass and the leafless trees tell a different story here, and that story is that our town wildlife is busy foraging in our gardens for any scraps they can find.

Now I regularly top up my feeders with peanuts and fat balls and fill the bird table with seeds, old brown bread and even chopped up apples. So there was I on Sunday, sitting peaceably in my conservatory, completely switched off from politics, housework done, cat fed and washing on the drier, just watching the to-ings and fro-ings of my flock of sparrows when a large fox popped its head through the cat tunnel. I say “tunnel” but it is a cat-sized hole in the fence, cut to allow Mr Smokey (my rescue cat) and other felines to come and go.

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It was about 2.30pm on a drab, grey afternoon. It meandered about, tried to reach the bird feeders, then scoffed the apple scraps left for the table-feeding birds. It came right up to the door, oblivious to me as I sat statue still.

Then another young fox poked its head through, and from their behaviour and size I would have guessed I was watching Mr and Mrs Fox. A noise, a scatter of birds to the safety of the holly tree and he was off, but she lingered and put paid to the last of the apple scraps.

Meantime up above, a squirrel perched on the roof ridge, stock still, giving me the eye and ever so stealthily bit by bit moved on to my neighbour’s roof.

Back on the ground, Mr Smokey had captured a very fat mouse, his patience at stalking beside the garden hut paying off at long last. I quickly blocked the cat-flap, having no taste for his antics with wounded rodents and only let him in once he reached licking his lips stage.

Now what is the point of this, if you have stuck with me so far? It’s to do with switching off, from telly, work, worries at large. Had I not decided to just sit there, cold though it was, I would have missed my David Attenborough moments which no doubt take place all day and all night when my back is turned.

Mr Smokey will know more about this than me but I’m just one of the inhabitants of this small patch of the city. And that’s just the wildlife I can see above ground and in the air.

Where do Mr and Mrs Fox live? I know there must be a den nearby because they are just two in a long line of foxes to cross my garden. I know there are badgers in town, a colleague saw one crossing the road one evening, though I have yet to see a hedgehog.

Yes, Planet Earth 2 is riveting stuff, but by the way, so is my back garden and so is your neighbourhood. Just sit quietly and see what crosses your path.