Welcome to our new Wild Things column in which Eric Brown discusses some of the wildlife seen in his Sidcup garden and elsewhere in the area.

During the sizzling summer days we've had there were unidentified flying objects over my garden.

You know, UFOs. But don’t panic. There’s no need to call in police, the army or even the Ministry of Defence.

For these UFOs were of the mini variety, about 80mm long. They zig-zagged around and flew at terrific speed in true UFO fashion. The problem was that they never landed to give me an opportunity of sorting out identity.

Almost every day for a couple of weeks one would appear usually in early evening. It was quite obvious they were dragonflies although my garden is distant from a substantial water body. After spending a while studying these winged wonders I began to pick out the colours green and blue as they whizzed by.

Reaching for my trusty copy of Britain’s Dragonflies by Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash, I thumbed through until narrowing the field of possibilities to southern hawker and emperor.

Both will visit gardens but a couple more glimpses pointed towards an emperor. Britain’s largest dragonfly at 66 to 84mm has more blue on the drooping abdomen than southern hawker which fitted with what I was seeing.

Territorial males patrol water bodies for long periods defending their territory against intruders. They are not reluctant to fly some distance from their 'home' pond, ditch or lake in search of insect prey which they eat on the wing. Large prey like the large white butterfly is consumed at rest.

Emperors are common in southern Britain, just one example of unusual wildlife that can turn up in your garden.

In this column I will examine wildlife both in gardens and countryside with the aim of parting readers from their armchairs and tellies to appreciate the abundant nature which often passes fairly close by completely unnoticed.

If you want to pass on information or sightings to Eric you can contact him via News Shopper's editor at simon.bull@london.newsquest.co.uk