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Unexpected wildlife hotspot: the washing line!


Washing Line Wildlife -- you never know what you might see!
Binoculars at the ready! You never know what you might see hanging out the washing.

Hanging out washing is an occupational hazards of working from a home office.

Working from home invariably means I’m around when the washing machine finishes its spin cycle. And in most Irish households if the weather is dry there’s always one overriding  imperative: to get the washing hung out as soon as humanly possible!

I don’t really mind. There’s something curiously therapeutic about pegging out laundry… and of course it’s another excuse to get away from the computer and spend time outside, which is never a bad thing. Washing-hanging isn’t the most mentally taxing of activities either, so even my functionally challenged male brain can handle a bit of multi-tasking.

I’ve taken to hanging out the laundry with my binoculars around my neck. My wife thinks I’ve lost the plot… but you’d be amazed what you can see. It’s mostly birds, naturally… mainly because they fly around and tend to make themselves more visible, but the mammal tally isn’t too shabby either. I have seen fox, Irish hare, brown rat (shhh), field mouse and bank vole from the washing line over recent years.

Bird highlights (as well as the garden “usual suspects”) include lapwing, golden plover, pied flycatcher, collared dove (a tricky enough bird locally), peregrine, kestrel, sparrowhawk and… undoubtedly the best bird to date… a hobby… not once but twice.

This spring I saw my first swallows and house martins from the washing line, heard my first chiffchaff, saw my first butterfly (small tortoiseshell), saw and heard my first bumblebee (Bombus sp.) and encountered several solitary bees… all while pegging merrily away.

It’s getting to the point where I actively look forward to hanging out a wash load these days; you really never know what you might see. I can hear the spin cycle winding down as I type this… time to go!

Do you have an unconventional wildlife hotspot? Tell us about it in the comments below!

1 comment

  • Valerie McGrath

    Good on you Calvin . Just saw my first tortoishells of the year, too, but not while hanging out the washing!
    I have to go on a short walk in the park beside my apartment and was lucky enough to spot a fox and a heron (not together!). I’d love to see a kestrel or sparrow-hawk, but hae had no luck so far. I enjoyed your c column

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