Magic Animals

Dear Readers, I’m sure that for all of us there are animals that, when they appear in our gardens or we bump into them during a walk in the countryside, fill us with awe and joy. For example, my garden is regularly visited by foxes at night, but seeing them in broad daylight always sets me up for the day. This little vixen popped in on Thursday morning  for no apparent reason other than to check if there were any suet pellets for the birds that she could hoover up.

Another creature that always makes me run for my camera is the rose-ringed parakeet. No doubt I would be a lot crosser if they visited every day and dismantled my birdfeeders, but as they only stop by about once a year I am more than happy to see them.

Then there is the grey heron who visited for a few days during 2019 and seemed to spend most of his time eating the frogs in the pond. What a shock he was! And how reading this piece takes me back to those days just after Mum had died, and when Dad was still adjusting to life in the nursing home.

 

And while we’re on the theme of unexpected visitors, the sparrowhawk always brings a frisson to the garden. To be confronted by the struggle for life that is taking place every day in the natural world is a challenging thing, but I am still stunned by the audacity and the strength of these birds. This visit in 2017 summed it all up for me…

And finally, I would hardly be Bugwoman without having a love for the insects that visit the garden, especially the more unusual ones. This female Emperor Dragonfly absolutely made my day as she tried to lay her eggs on the wooden steps, and I now have some rotting wood permanently placed in the pond just in case she comes back.

And this beautiful rose chafer beetle made my day in 2020, on a hot August afternoon when it felt as if lockdown would never end.

And how about this beautiful Jersey Tiger moth, now being seen in some numbers every year?

So, over to you readers! What are the animals that make you gasp when they make an appearance? What of your garden visitors make you happiest? Pop your answers in the comments, and let me know if you have photos – I’d love to make a ‘favourite garden animals from around the world’ post in a few weeks. I bet we’ve all got some stories to tell!

 

30 thoughts on “Magic Animals

  1. vuurklip

    Recently a small striped mouse, some time ago a slug eater (a small brown snake the size of a pencil) found a hiding place in my wife’s shoe.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Lovely! Though probably not for your wife :-). My dream is to find a grass snake or a slow worm in the garden, but no luck yet….

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  2. Anne

    Unusual – and welcome – visitors to my garden over the past year have included a Brown Mongoose, Steppe Buzzard, a Puffadder, and an African Harrier.

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  3. SilverTiger

    Lovely pictures of the fox and the parakeet. It’s fascinating to see how foxes have adapted to town life and learned how to live in parallel with humans.

    The tiger moth strikes a chord because, as a child, I would find a caterpillar of the garden tiger, put it in a jar and feed it on peony leaves so as to watch it grow and then change, first into a chrysalis and then into a beautiful adult moth. Tigers are still my favourites of the moth world though all are fascinating.

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  4. Claire

    The eyes of a young tawny owl sitting in a tree opposite my kitchen window( on the third floor). A black redstart nesting in a hole in the wall. Bats in the summer sky. The occasional roe deer, fox or red squirrel in the Park or in the woods. A jay, a green woodpecker or a hedgehog visiting the garden…An eery feeling as a weasel followed me on the opposite sidewalk as I was coming home from the train station at night. All of them in the middle of the city. And, in the seventies, the discovery of stag beetles flying in the garden…not any more, though. And I love herons and parakeets, too…

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      That’s a fantastic collection of animals, Claire. Where I used to live with my parents, on the Essex side of London, we had stag beetles every year in the rotting wood of the ancient conservatory – ours were always a very deep red colour, and as big as your hand. Fantastic creatures!

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  5. Sara

    On a sunny June morning last year a rather mangy fox curled up on the lawn for a nap. When we had an apple tree (10 years ago) we were visited by a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Parakeets BUT the most jaw dropping visit was from a Muntjac Deer. We live in suburban North London, our garden is surrounded on three sides by neighbours’ properties. A friend saw the same(?) deer a few days later in a front garden just off the main road near Enfield Town station and the bus stops. No sightings since then.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      That really would have been jaw-dropping! There apparently used to be a pair of muntjac in St Pancras and Islington cemetery, but they haven’t been seen for years either – too many dogs in it , and too many major roads around it I fear…

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      1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

        This story reminds me of one morning many years ago when I lived on the outskirts of York (in a former life/marriage). My elder daughter was about 3 years old. One morning, she woke up early around 5am and it was my ‘turn’ to get up and keep her entertained downstairs. As we played I noticed a badger wander down the drive of our house and into our (enclosed) back garden. We set up a ‘badger watch’ behind the sofa, as it wandered around, probably wondering how to get out. And then the next thing it came up to the french windows and had a good sniff. It can’t have been more than 4 feet away. It was daylight by then too, so we got a good look. It finally found its way out of course and we never saw it again. I don’t suppose my daughter will remember it, but I’ll never forget the experience! (Sorry, no photos!)

      2. Bug Woman Post author

        Moments like that are so special, aren’t they! I’d love to see a badger in the garden, but no chance around here….

  6. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    For us I’d have to say it’s the birds… We’re always on the look out for something ‘new’ or different. If I were to offer up two examples for your gallery, to reflect where we live… One would be the Crested Tit. It’s one of our favourite visitors as it always seems so happy with its trim-phone call. And the other would be the Alpine Accentor, which is obviously more ‘local’ to the Alps. Of course my heart goes all of a flutter when I see any butterfly, but I usually have to wander up the road or go on one of my walks to capture something special.

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      1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

        Yes – just a few! I was only taking some pics of the Accentor yesterday, which was sitting chattering away on our rock. Though I dare say I have better photos. I can dig out the best and send them if you wish?

      2. Bug Woman Post author

        Thanks for the photos Mike! I’m just catching up with my mail. I’m going to collect a few more photos from folk and put a blog post together….

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      That’s lovely, Lorraine. Our fox visitors always stop for a drink too. They usually bring in some KFC that they’ve scavenged from the High Street too, which isn’t quite so picturesque….

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  7. Andrea Stephenson

    My back yard doesn’t get too many visitors, but I’ll always be in awe of the time spiderlings hatched on one of the sheets I’d hung out to dry that morning. More generally, foxes are a rare treat and deer – though only when I visit the forest. There’s sometimes a heron at the dene and occasionally a kingfisher.

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  8. Emily B

    My favourite visitor (actually a resident but we don’t see him too often) is a lovely toad who seems to live near the water butt. We have frogs in the pond, but a toad is somehow even more special.

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  9. Gail

    We moved down here to Somerset from London about 8 years ago. I love foxes, so a loss has been that I haven’t seen one in the garden at all when we’d had frequent visitors in London. In fact, we rarely hear them or see them in the roads or the fields, other than, at best, ducking into a hedge and, at worst, a sorry heap at the side of the road. Definitely love seeing the heron and the sparrowhawk (although I wish that somehow their visits didn’t mean the loss of frogs or other birds from the feeder), and the greater spotted woodpecker that comes several times every day. And the little wren that twinkles in and out of the plants.

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    1. Bug Woman Post author

      I have never seen a fox in the countryside, Gail. I guess they are too persecuted to be bold. I love wrens too, and I know what you mean about the herons and sparrowhawks – I shooed the heron away after the third frog because I just couldn’t bear it. There were 56 frogs in the pond when it was cleared out in the spring after his visit, though, so I guess he didn’t do too much damage.

      Reply

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