Animals at home in London.
By Francesca Fenn, Apr 14 2019 08:05PM
BY MARGIE SKINNER
My attention was caught by a recent article about a cat and her litter of kittens discovered underneath the escalators at Moorgate station. They are now safely in the hands of the RSPCA; I wonder if their names will reflect their birthplace!
There is something fascinating about animals making their homes in the heart of urban London. When I was last at Southwark Cathedral I noticed cat bowls at one end of the south aisle, not far from the memorial to victims of the Marchioness disaster. A friendly staff member explained all about their famous resident cat ‘Doorkins Magnificat’, so named by the vergers who fed her. This stray ‘adopted’ the Cathedral in 2008, appearing between Christmas and New Year, and deciding to stay. She has become part of Cathedral life, and published her first book in 2017 (giving a tour of the Cathedral and describing her typical week) and has a whole range of eponymous merchandise.
At the other end of the food chain are the peregrine falcons sometimes seen nesting atop the chimney at the Tate Modern. After a visit to the gallery last autumn we were drawn to a crowd huddling round telescopes outside. These were set up to give viewers the treat of observing the birds in their lofty nest. Actually, there would be little chance of Doorkins or his kind catching a peregrine; the fastest living creatures they can reach speeds of 240 mph when in a dive!
Other surprising avian London residents are the parakeets which, as well as in many London suburbs, have a bright and vocal presence in Kensington Gardens. A great draw for tourists they are extremely tame as I discovered when re-walking our book ‘Kensington Gardens and Beyond’.
Our next book will be all about the world coming to London, but we should remember that the animal world makes a home here too!