London is an incongruous place, where polar opposites bump up against each other and manage to co-exist in an odd kind of harmony. The packed landscape is one of brick, mortar, steel and glass. The air hangs thick with pollution, and there are people absolutely everywhere. But amidst the manmade, wild things roam.
Raptors revel in a cityscape that mimics the shapes formed by cliffs and crags. Prehistoric-looking herons form huge colonies on islands in manmade lakes. Rare stag beetles thrive in south London back yards. Bats hang out in disused railway tunnels. And tawny owls bring up young in ancient oaks, mere minutes from Marble Arch.
What I love most about London is its endless capacity to surprise. I find it both brilliant and reassuring to know that a huge swathe of this heaving city is natural land and that a host of creatures thrive here. Here’s a small selection of photographs of creatures that can be found living in London.
A hawthorn shield bug on the roof of an extremely tall tower near Liverpool Street station; a rare swallow and a swarm of swans, both on the Thames; a magnificent jay and a handsome heron in Regent’s Park; a beautiful vixen in a Wimbledon garden; a cormorant island in Walthamstow; tawny owlets and a glossy rat in Kensington; and a squirrel, a blackbird and a bee on my very own roof.