You see there’s the nice, reliable, romantic version: Birth, Youth & vitality, Reproduction, Middle Age & Power, Old Age & Wisdom, Death.This still goes on here and there…Sort of.
Chris Packham, one of our top conservationists here in the UK, revealed early in the year that;
“In precis, the population and distribution trends of a representative set of 3,148 species across the UK’s major habitat types show a catastrophic 60% decline over the last 50 years. Of these, 13% are in danger of extinction. Regarding butterflies, 72% have declined over the last 10 years. We have lost 44m pairs of breeding birds since the late 1960s; and destroyed 97% of our meadows, 90% of coppiced woodland, and 80% of heathlands.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/24/britain-paradise-lost-hope
This had a strong impact on me and I felt overwhelmingly upset about it all. After a week I had made a decision.
An old boy I knew up north had, his whole life, fed the waterfowl on a loch on his land. By all accounts it was a phenomenon. He spent a significant proportion of his income, and time, on it and had thousands of birds of many species that lived, visited and holidayed at his loch… So much so, that all the shooters were up in arms as there was no quarry on any of the lochs for miles around! When I was a child, feeding the wild fauna too much was deemed detrimental to their overall survival…. this man’s loch said otherwise. Nowadays, it is clear that what he has always done has seriously contributed to the numbers. So I had a change of heart and mindset.
I’ve always fed the birds in the Winter but after my mini epiphany I decided to take up the mantle down here and dedicate a proportion of my income to seriously supporting significant numbers of birds, regularly and reliably. A conscious commitment.
You can cry and blame and whinge till you’re blue in the face but unless Daddy can fix it, you’re better off rolling up your sleeves and doing your best. I don’t believe I was responded to as a child if I whinged, it just isn’t in my nature… so sleeves it was!
Raising awareness is one thing. Getting stuck in is quite another.
So I have been going through sackfuls and buckets of food… Getting up early to put out the smorgasbord… Protecting the area from cats and squirrels… Ensuring plenty of nest sites and material… And spending far too much time staring out of the windows watching for new visitors.
We started with a handful and we now have flocks! The dawn chorus crescendo gets me up and the evening chatter is positively comical as they seemingly shout at each other across the garden until finally, the last noisy one settles down for the night.
So, a new circle of life? In what sense then?
Well, after artificially increasing the numbers of birds this year (the freezing temperatures followed by heatwave would have done for many of them)….
I woke up this morning slightly groggily, to a little baby bluetit on my pillow…. I thought, “how special!”… it chirruped a couple of times…. and then my bloody dog appeared from nowhere and killed it.
For goodness sake!
Now before we get too upset with the dog;
1. She was protecting me
2. She, daily, protects the birds en masse from cats and other predators
3. That’s the only bird she’s ever murdered
Nonetheless, the disappointment got me thinking.
Two very damaged Bluetits have been dining with me all year. They have uncomfortably ‘bleached’ heads and are both in constant distress. Having initially thought it was some sort of spray damage, I then explored some sort of genetic mutation but am back round to my instinctive thoughts. They have brought up at least one healthy chick but both still have a wild-eyed lunacy to their behaviour, akin, I feel, to going crazy with pain. Something which I know all about. They remind me of me.
I suppose my point is that we need to change and evolve our collective mindset to realise that we have become the spanner in the cycle of life;
Cars, Cats, Concrete, Paved Gardens, Non-native Species, pathetic mass fear of insects and mutually supported mass murder of said insects, Pesticides, Insecticides, Fungicides, Herbicides, Weed killers, Lawnmowers, Fences, Barbed wire, Fishing line, Litter, Plastic, Toxic Waste … and the unmitigated pollution of our most precious resources; our Air, Soil and Water.
It’s in our hands
Individually and Together