A few days ago my elderly neighbour (who is not the sharpest pencil in the case) told me that during the break for Corrie he had seen six dark shapes scurrying about his lawn just as darkness fell. RATS!!!!! we panicked, trying to work out which of our near, terraced, neighbours we could dump the blame on for this calamity! "They all came in from your side!" he accused "Yes but YOU saw them in YOUR garden" I countered "therefore they are YOUR rats!". "They have pooed all over my lawn" he moaned holding exhibit A out on a shovel for me to inspect.
"They look rather big for rat droppings" I opined, photographing the offering and posting it on twitter for advice "unless they are alarmingly large rats!" We both shuddered at the thought and my neighbour agreed to phone me if he saw them again. Sure enough at 8.45pm the phone went and I rushed to my window binoculars in hand to try and make out the dark shapes tumbling around at the back of his garden. Foxes!! Little fox cubs climbing into his plant trough and rolling around digging the bulbs out - again. We turned our powerful torch on them as they piled in over my back wall, through the gap at the end of my new fencing and into their favoured play area. At least one adult and three cubs - the result of the noisy fox-bonking that went on nightly in the early months of this year.
They return each night although we don't always see them - just the evidence of another party, some glittery blue, sticky, sweet discarded on my flowerbed, a knocked over pot, an annoyingly broken plant stem. Then the Bedsock, off to work at 'the crack of', sees the party still going on as the morning begins to cast light on it.. the photos are rushed, taken through a closed window, but still show just what those foxes have had on the menu.
Mains - Macdonald's fries to go
Pudding - possibly a waffle
Drinks - the cub washes it down with water from the pondlet
Fascinating as the foxes are they are also a real worry. We live in an housing intensive, terraced area about a mile from the beginnings of open countryside. The number of urban foxes is increasing substantially each year and the area can't sustain another four foraging for food. Already the seagulls tear open the bin bags we are forced to leave out on the pavement and the foxes help distribute that rubbish further. And whilst the cats are still happy to chase single foxes off what might happen if they are cornered by several at once?
At the moment I am more worried by the nightly incursion of bind weed from my other neighbour's overgrown neglected garden. Removing the crumbling brick wall between us has allowed this nightmare to slither undetected under the fence, rearing its ugly growth in my border. As fast as I remove this blight it finds another route in and my only hope is a daily vigilance to ensure it is removed as far as possible - but what will happen if we go away for a few weeks?
Foxes, bindweed, seagulls - there is always some garden intruder to be fought off! At least the lack of rain has substantially cut down on this year's snail population...