Category Suburban nature

#ThumbnailNature – Oh Alexanders!

While I’m fond of you, frankly my dear Alexanders, you smell terrible. Spring has brought your tiny stinky sulphur flowers with lavish curls & deely bopper stamens. An aphid languidly waves antennae under my scrutiny, lumbers through the flowering umbel & then plays peekaboo behind the juicy trunk of a stem.

Tales from the suburban wild – feasts and jamming

I arrive at the community orchard with my guitar, and find the Apple Day activities well underway. Kids are making bird feeders by sticking seeds into apples, and there’s free apple juice made using the apples visitors were encouraged to bring along from their gardens. The promised cider hasn’t materialised but for me that’s probably […]

Tales from the suburban wild – food for fairies and a hunger for nature learning

A woman is walking in front of me on Peckham Rye with a four-year-old. He’s looking at something in his hand, a conker in its prickly case. “Perhaps it’s food for fairies and elves?” mum says. The boy frowns at the conker. “No, Mummy, they’re for animals”.  Busted. Sarah opens the heavy Victorian door and […]

Tales from the suburban wild – woman on the verge

I’m standing in the middle of the road which runs alongside Sydenham Hill wood. To be fair this is a pretty quiet road looping off the main road along Sydenham Hill ridge, so it isn’t quite as daring as it might sound. In front of me is a curving triangular verge of about ten square […]

Tales of the suburban wild – from urbs to burbs

I’m standing in the middle of Southwark Bridge. It’s just after ten in the morning on a chilly but bright autumn day.  Facing west I can see a train pulling into Blackfriars station. To the north is the City of London, not quite a square mile, where neoclassical pillars jostle and jar with stripped down […]

A moment to think about feathers… just wow.

Finding a blue feather from a jay’s wing is like finding treasure – I’ve had one in my wallet for a couple of months now. If the feather’s gorgeous blue wasn’t enough, then looking at the structure through a hand lens is extraordinary. Tiny hooklets, on barbules, on barbs, on a quill, rachis or shaft […]

Will they ever learn?

Three parakeets eating crab apples. Peck, spit, peck, spit. Maybe this bit will be nicer? Or this bit? Or even this bit? Or perhaps this one? Or that one? Or the one over there? Now look you lot. They’re sour goddammit. They’re always going to be sour. GIVE. IT. UP.

Suburban High Noon (#ThumbnailNature)

Suburban high noon. Grass alleyway between garden fences. At one end, a fox. At the other, two crows forage all casual-like, their nest in a sycamore overhead.  Fox inches forward. Stops. Starts. Watched every step. Nah, not worth it mate. He turns and lopes away. I breathe out gently.

11th August 2021 – Gipsywort instead of Yellow-legged gulls on Rainham Marshes

I went in search of Yellow-legged Gulls and left instead with a photo of the purple-pencilled flowers of Gipsywort, which I found growing alongside the boardwalk. Finally nailed a Willow Warbler with confidence, so progress on my birdsong and call journey. Oh and there was a good showing of by a Marsh Harrier too.

26th July 2021 – Love a crow

Crows nest in the wood opposite our house but this year a pair choose one of the oak trees in our communal garden. From our back bedroom window I can see them building their nest as the leaves aren’t properly out. That nest soon disappears into the green. There’s not much evidence of them, or […]