Foxes, kestrels and pigeons: nature as nurture

Foxes, kestrels and pigeons: nature as nurture

The fox trots. Notices me. Stops. Stands, framed by stairs. It looks at me inquisitively. We share a moment. It is early morning. I am no threat as yet. It turns, no hurry, takes cover.

We are still. It sneaks a peek through a gap in the leaves to see if I am still there. We are both unconcerned. Reassured I mean no harm, it moves off through the allotments.

The blackbird alarm call had alerted me. Indignant shouting, not song; warning off the predator from its low-hanging nest. I see the fox many mornings now: it’s young, fluffy, bushy-tailed. The patch of scattered pigeon feathers signals its early activity.

He or she, it is hard to tell, digs multiple holes on a neighbour’s neat plot. Another fox, another time, did the same on ours: a repeated pit, the size of a football, always the same place, like it had lost the map to pirate treasure, had maybe buried bones. Then it stopped. It stole my shoe once, when I had changed into wellingtons. It is also fond of leather gloves. It is impossible to take personally.

There is a kestrel, too, that comes early to sit on our poles, scan the site. It feels like a benediction. There are multiple pigeons, of course, that fly away as I get close. At the moment, they are partial to cropping the row of baby rocket. There are screaming green parakeets, my favourite mistle thrush. A wren family in the hedge next door darts away, disturbed by my dawn watering. They are almost too quick and small to see.

There are occasional frogs and (more rarely) golden-eyed newts. Always the ever-curious robin. All are my morning companions, more often to be found than people in this semi- domesticated space that sometimes calls of the wild. Where nature feels like nurture.