Ever since people began building towns and cities, they have had to share their habitats with another group of urbanites those from the natural world. Nature has often thrived on the fringes of human settlements, but now more and more of Britain's wildlife is heading for the bright lights of the city not to mention its darker corners, dingier gutters and abandoned industrial wastelands. With raptors nesting in tower blocks, deer using railway lines to make forays into city centres, parakeets courting in suburban gardens and foxes flourishing in the subways, the city has never been so wild.
In this fascinating account of humans and nature living cheek-by-jowl, Martin Wainwright explores the hidden and not-so-hidden flora and fauna of Britain's most populated areas. In Manchester, Britain's fastest bird, the peregrine falcon, lays on an air show for visitors glued to telescopes below. Outside a supermarket in Gateshead, red kites wheel and dive to scavenge rubbish. And in more than thirty towns and cities, the staff of Britain's bat hospitals release cured patients' back into the company of similar species. We join a deer-stalker in Bristol, a promoter of green' roofs in the East End and a horse-rescuer in Bradford, and spend a night at the moth traps at Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.
But not all wildlife has been welcomed: some has been resisted, or even engaged in mortal combat. We visit a pest controller in Leeds who has stalked rats for 34 years with the cunning of the creatures he hunts, and check out Cardiff fruit market for imported spiders, snakes and frogs. These entertaining and informative encounters with our feathered, furry and foliate neighbours, and the enthusiasts who spot them, protect them or pursue them, reveal the importance of these creatures to even the most sophisticated urban society.