I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published May 27th 2016
Beverley Brook’s Birds
I have been watching the jay quite intently for the last twenty minutes. It seems to have a definite pattern of behaviour; flying into a large willow beside the brook then foraging along the grassy verge before hopping up on to the railing near a bird feeder. As a visitor from Australia, where colourful birds are the norm, I am astounded by the wonderful range of colourful birds and other wildlife that inhabit this small waterway.
I am in Putney; just half an hour by bus on a good traffic day, less on the tube; from the centre of London. This charming little hamlet sits alongside the Thames and boasts a wide variety of pubs, restaurants, galleries and other attractions that make it an ideal destination for any traveller. And if your interests extend to natural history then the Thames Path, Beverly Brook Walk, London Wetlands Centre and nearby Richmond Park elevate this part of South West London to the 'must visit' status.
The afternoon draws on and I am losing the light and I can hear the hollow tapping of a woodpecker. Scanning the tree-line with my telephoto I am rewarded by an intimate view of a greater spotted woodpecker hammering away at the trunk of a large tree. Later a red headed woodpecker lands on the same tree and seeing the two together rates as one of the wildlife highlights of this visit to England.
It is getting a little chilly and I retire to the warmth of the front room which has an excellent view of the brook albeit with the restriction of shooting through an extra layer of glass. Almost immediately, a robin lands on the trellis attached to a small balcony. A pair of these iconic British birds has established a nest behind a hanging basket. The feisty little bird has a beak full of grubs to feed its insistent offspring.
My last diurnal encounter is with one of Britain's introduced nuisances, a grey squirrel. A novelty to visitors, these intelligent New World invaders have displaced the indigenous red squirrels and are notorious devourers of garden plants. I catch this little blighter in the act.
As the darkness shrouds the brook the daytime activity ceases and the nocturnal animals start their shift. I contemplate supper at one of my favourite casual restaurant; Hudsons on the Lower Richmond Road... fish pie to die for. My meal complete I wander back towards home along the Thames Embankment taking in the surreal view of Putney Bridge under lights.
But my wildlife adventures have not quite ended. To reach the flat I have to cross a small park where the local foxes often search for discarded bits of food; a great opportunity for me to see these wily canids in an urban setting. However, it is not a fox that completes my extraordinary day enjoying Putney's wildlife but a hedgehog that slowly ambles past the local tennis courts in search of its evening meal of grubs, worms and beetles.