I love it when the unexpected happens in the garden. And here was the surprise visitor to my pond this Wednesday.

Yes, it's one of my photos where you have to hunt for what got me excited, hiding amongst the leaved of Branched Bur-reed plants as they die back for the winter.

Here's another photo as it revealed itself, picking gently around the pond margin:

An all dark waterbird with a red and yellow beak and a white flash down its side is of course a Moorhen. Not a hen of heather upland moorland, but a hen of the 'moors' meaning fenland or uncultivated wet ground in the lowlands, such as Sedgemoor in Somerset or Sculthorpe Moor in Norfolk.

The reason for sharing this is not because I expect you to get excited by my Moorhen, but by what it shows. I never predicted that my garden pond in suburbia would ever entertain one of them, so it just shows that the unexpected is always possible if you make your garden welcoming to wildlife.

The thing is that every day, and every night, widlife is on the move, looking for somewhere to feed or even breed. All sorts of wildlife will, by chance, pass through or over your garden. Within seconds they are gone again, without you ever knowing they were there, for if they don't see what they need, there is no point them stopping.

So the job of the wildlife-friendly gardener is to give wildlife reason to stop. Put in a nectar-rich flower border and the bees and butterflies will linger; put in a pond and the dragonflies and damselflies will interrupt their journeys.

And when they do, the thrill is immense, the reward huge, knowing that they stayed because of your welcome.

So my humble little Moorhen had me crowing with pleasure. I've seen thousands in my life, but this gave me pleasure like no other.

It stayed the whole day. It swam about. It fed. It strutted about in that curious head-jerking, tail-flicking way they do.

And by Thursday morning, it was gone again.

But who knows what will arrive tomorrow. For the wildlife-friendly gardener, there is always another surprise around the corner.

Anonymous