1. The harshest weather is over and spring is here (again). Winter sloughed away the dead/dying vegetation, the land’s recharged, exfoliated, fresh faced and ready to start again.
2. Under bright skies and the constant flow of air traffic, ducks and moorhens and geese etc bask and fish among the city’s wasted STUFF: forgotten shoes and slabs of polystyrene, otter-shaped garden statues stolen by the floods.
3. Sherbet-pink blossom flakes from cherry trees and carries in the breeze like sugared wishes.
4. Wildflowers pop up in riverside wastelands, acid-bright against the fading grey.
5. In Battersea Park, this is the perfect time to see the heronries, while the herons are gathering to breed and raise their young and the vegetation is still thin enough to get a good view of their huge, unlikely nests.
Perched precariously in the tops of the tallest trees, herons tend to their tangled clumps of twigs in a spectacle that seems somehow lost in time – Pterodactyls roosting in front of Battersea Power Station, swooping and squawking and bickering with each other mid-air.
6. Bully swans team up into bully pairs to hassle the geese on the lake – nipping, bashing, chasing, hissing.
7. Geese fly low and heavy in the sky, honking a song in unison.
8. This idiot.
There are three colonies of European yellow-tailed scorpions in London
Pigeons that catch the tube, pigeon eating pelicans, duckling nabbing turtles, scorpion (!) invaders, fox fighting badgers, screeching parakeets, crayfish gang wars – London has the best wildlife. It’s one of the greenest and most animal-friendly cities in the world. Last night’s Britain’s Natural World: an unnatural history of London’s streets on BBC4 told the often unseen story of London’s natural world, a bustling community as diverse and populous, more populous, in fact, than its human colony. And just like its people, London’s collection of weird and wonderful animal inhabitants is changing, ever evolving with the ebb and flow of migrants (stealing their rubbish). Recent arrivals include several small, relatively harmless, scorpion colonies that glow under UV light.
I’m not quite sure why nature-loving and general nuttiness seem to complement each other so well, but there are a good few, shall we say ‘special’, characters here: the sausage-wielding woman who’s trained her local foxes to sit on command; the photographer who seems to genuinely believe that pigeons have political opinions, that they’re a community of power fighting protesters, and the man who likes birds so much he bought a house overlooking a RUBBISH DUMP. Perhaps, with a bit of practice, I’ll be as uniquely eccentric one day.
The show’s only on iPlayer until Wednesday 27th November (which is one of the BBC’s many annoying habits).
WATCH: an unnatural history of London