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Section:Guest Wildlife Bloggers
The right place at the right time
9th October 2014
In my article last month I wrote “We may go out looking for wildlife, but very rarely does it look for us.”
Due to a very busy past few weeks I’ve had very few opportunities to get outside and actively search for nature. Amazingly, I found I had some of my most notable encounters with animals during this time. So either I was completely wrong (and wildlife does come looking for us!) or I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. At the moment I’m going for the latter, but as a biologist in training I’m open to any suggestions!
First was the fox. It was early – around 6am. The mist and the moon were only just beginning to give up their stubborn hold on the dawn. I was waking myself up with tea, peering out into stillness heralding the beginning of tumultuous autumn, when a slender fox nonchalantly trotted by. I remember literally feeling my jaw drop at my unexpected proximity to such a beautiful creature. And beautiful he or she certainly was. A woody brown back blended seamlessly into rich russet covering its neck and chest, and a white bib extended from the chin right to the belly. The bushy tail looked as if it had been briefly dipped into deep brown paint, as did its paws, and these little socked feet held a delicate poise while it sniffed at the air, motionless. Ears held aloft and a slight twitching of the nose aided its investigations. Its slight physique lead me to believe it may be a young adult, but it held no juvenile business here and after no more than 20 seconds in my field of vision it swiftly slunk away.
Most surprising was the badger. I was walking back to a busy nightclub at which I was volunteering, caring for younger inebriated students. I rounded the club’s back corner and not 5 metres away was a badger innocently snuffling around next to a fenced hedge. I was completely taken aback and exclaimed “BADGER!!”, quite scaring the volunteer with me and alerting the badger to our presence. (I don’t know why I yelled quite so excitedly… I think I was happy to see something that I knew wasn’t drunk, to be honest). Unlike my friend, the badger wasn’t too bothered. After casting a beady eye over us and determining that we weren’t threats, he snuffled a little more. Then he ambled off under the fence and into the hedge.
On the way to a job interview last week I took a shortcut through a wood and out into semi-managed parkland. I sensed a large shadow glide over the leaf-rustled path. Gazing up into the twilight I witnessed a buzzard complete a couple of lazy circles. It was flying low enough for me to make out specific underwing patterns, and (as always with buzzards) its sheer size and effortless display of power had me breathless. It emitted no sound, no whisper of feathers or characteristic mewling, and melted away into the woodland. I continued to my interview with an extra spring in my step, and am quite happy to share some of the credit of getting the job with that extraordinary bird of prey.
Finally, and just this morning, I saw a robin. Not particularly notable except for how close we were and how certain I am that he saw me. I had no idea he was perched just 2 feet from the path until the distinctive lilting song caused me to spin round. He stayed motionless save for a few curious head tilts in my direction. A prominent red breast and a couple of squeaky peeps confirmed his identity. Before I knew it, he had fluttered away up into the overhanging trees.
None of these sightings were sought out, which in my opinion definitely adds to their value. These animals entered my bubble, shattering it and allowing me some much-needed perspective. I’m very thankful that, for mere seconds, I was in the right place at the right time!
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