Tuesday 30 December 2008

Calloo Callay!

Cold, cold day today. Garden seething with birds. They are enjoying the pond which might be the only bit of open water in tha area - the birds are actually queueing for their baths! The blackbird splashes pleasurably, throwing water around. Meanwhile, a large sparrow waits on the edge of the stone sink. Soon he gets his turn but is buzzed in the water by an impatient greenfinch.

There is plenty of food available to distract those who can't get into the water. I see coal tits, blue tits, greenfinches, robins. On my terrace, a small red-brown whirr of movement is Jenny Wren.

I watch all this, delighted, from my kitchen window. Through the screen of bushes which shelters the lower quarter, a slide of movemrt catches my eye. It is a large fox, coming over the wall from Cassidy's. Entranced, I watch as the brown-red form slides down the wall and turns right, towards the shrubbery, and pauses: only the tail can be seen, held out horizontal, foxy-orange with the white of the tip extending upwards, like an old dog's chin. Grizzled,in fact.

Thrilled, I quickly place some Christmas leftovers in a bowl and hastily put the food in the traditional fox-feeding spot beside the pond. Too much for Cleo the cat, sorry, birds!
Then I went in for an afternoon nap. And when I got up an hour later the food was all gone!

Hurrah hurray calloo callay! The boys are back in town!

Monday 29 December 2008


On Christmas Eve, as I was shopping for groceries in Blackrock, I received a text message from a friend, the Education Officer of the Irish Wildlife Trust. It said, paraphrased:
Are you bored with shopping? Then come down to the Liffey quays, between Queen St and the Park. I'm watching an otter, happily playing in the water!
I couldn't get there, but I'm happy for the otter and my friend and the lucky few who got to see an otter at play, in broad daylight in a crowded city!

Same day - my husband was walking down the tree-lined avenue that leads to the N11 and a grey squirrel ran across the road in front of him. They're everywhere...

Today I saw 4 blackbirds in my garden; that is to say, two were dark brown, the ladies.
One of them was in or on the pond, pecking disconsolately at the thick sheet of ice. I went out with a bowl of water and they scattered. Later they were back, fighting among themselves when not tossing over dead leaves, as they do.

The dead fox is being gradually covered with leaves, some blown over, some thrown on by me. It merges imperceptibly with the earth. My hope is that by Spring, I won't have to look at a skeleton!

Wednesday 24 December 2008

A very merry Christmas!

Season's greetings to all who read here!
Sorry there hasn't been any new post for a month - there simply haven't been any sightings at all. Or soundings.
I was chatting to a neighbour yesterday who agreed with me that the distinctive sound of foxes barking at night has not been heard. It used to be quite a feature of life around here - the winter shrieking of vulpine courtship. And this is right spot on in mating season. But the tawny fellow-tenants have gone quiet.
Sometimes I have ugly daydreams in which I imagine that some evil-spirited citizen is poisoning them all. And it is true that there was an outbreakof animal poisoning a couple of years ago in which several people, including ourselves, lost beloved pets. It was never explained, but I did think that perhaps someone was laying poison for foxes. Even putting out rat poison might be the cause, if cats or foxes would eat poisoned meat.
Let us hope it is nothing of the sort, but only caution and stealth!
A very happy Christmas to all!