Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Urban wild life

We live near the centre of a town far from the noise of tractors and the stench of broiler chicken houses; our road is quiet and we have many wild residents and visitors: badgers, foxes, squirrels and so on. We see the last two often, swanning around as if they own the place (the vixen above is particularly bold), but have never actually seen the badgers, having failed so far to carry out our plan to sit out in the dark, silent and downwind of the sett, in the hope of seeing them gambol or mate or whatever it is badgers get up to at night. When we first realised they were there we asked the local badger society about them and the man got hold of the wrong end of the stick, thinking that we wanted to know how to kill them, but when we explained that they were welcome he told us about leaving out trays of peanuts and so on. We never got round to this either, but they seem to be thriving.
And then there are the birds: assorted finches, blue tits, sparrows, dunnocks, starlings, blackbirds, wrens, robins, magpies and unidentified others. I don’t find them a big thrill myself but my wife acquired some binoculars so that she can watch them lashing into the copious banquets she provides while chirruping about in a neurotic sort of way (the birds, I mean). They can't be very bright, because our fat and lazy cat has already presented us with the corpses of two of them.

But the incontinent seagulls (properly, herring gulls) are another matter; I wish we could poison the filthy beasts, like Tom Lehrers’s pigeons:
We’ll murder them all amid laughter and merriment,
Except for a few we take home to experiment…

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