The frog and the crab spider
I’ve always been a wildlife nerd, and growing up in the deepest, darkest depths of Suffolk I was rewarded with such an orchestra of creatures that I felt almost like Gerald Durrell himself. My parents were also lenient with my demands for animals, and I soon had two huge flights and three aquariums in my bedroom, along with the multitude of guinea pigs outside. Moving to London was a little bit of a shock, and even on the peripherals of London where forest, trees and scrubland are only a few hundred metres from my home, the lack of wildlife was a slightly horrendous realisation.
Gradually, over the past few years, I’ve been making my garden as safe and wildlife friendly as possible. It’s hard – I’m a middle of terrace with no side passage, the complete width of the end of my garden is a concrete garage which borders a parking lot and, on one side, the end terrace has a ten foot wall which the majority of creatures wouldn’t be able to get over.
With all these obstacles in many a creature’s path, I tend to only get passing wildlife, and very few of those remain for very long. There are foxes nosing their way along the chicken run before realising that they’d have an easier time looking for cooked chicken in a dustbin bag. There are gargantuan flocks of wood pigeons who fly down when I put seed out for any of the smaller birds and fly off, full, cumbersome and in need of some extra lift. Then there are the magpies, horrible birds ready to kill any small fledgling and who always have an ominous look about their character.
However, in the past few days I’ve had the joy of two new creatures, the frog and the crab spider. I’ve had visiting frogs that haven’t stayed around for long, and last year a friend was scuttling around my garden after dark and found a frog in the pond. I thought it’d had disappeared, but she’s grown considerably. I was watering last night and there she was, bright eyed, pink mouthed, hopping around the containers in search of young slugs and snails – I HOPE. Then, today, I spied one of my favourite spiders – the crab spider. This amazing little creature can often change its colour according to the flower its on. I remember Gerald Durrell writing about them in his books and being enamoured with these critters when I was young. Now, to have them in my garden, I’m delighted!
It’s a welcome treat for my garden as I was pretty sure that only pests were able to find my patch. It’s incredible how thousands of snails and slugs manage to find my garden and thrive on the restaurant I’m providing, yet other creatures never even step a paw past the garden fence. But, with the arrival of the crab spider and the knowledge that last years frog has set up home, I’m a happy gardener this evening.