Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Last week, I went for a lovely walk along the banks of the River Severn just outside Worcester. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt blessed to have such a habitat rich environment on my doorstep. It supports such an amazing range of flora and fauna and I notice something new every single time I walk there.
On this particular day I saw at least 5 different species of bumblebee, numerous different solitary mining bees and more honey bees than I ever see on the nearby Malvern Hills. So...definitely an important habitat for bees!
There were dozens of wild flowers coming into bloom; including Comfrey, Jacob's Ladder, Lady's Smock and White Campion - and the Willows (too many different varieties to list here) were alive with the sound of bird song. As well as the Woodpeckers, Robins, Blackbirds and Great Tits I usually see or hear when I'm walking this path, I also heard Black Caps, White Throats, Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers. But the icing on the cake was spotting this stunning butterfly (above) who kept perfectly still for at least ten minutes whilst I photographed her from every possible angle. I had no idea at the time what species she was, but was absolutely enchanted by her. I discovered later that she was a female Orange Tip and that the Cuckoo Flower she was sitting on (sometimes known as Lady's Smock) is one of her favourite sources of food.
I came home brimming over with the joys of nature and spent a few happy hours thumbing through my bird/butterfly/wild flower books trying to identify everything I'd seen and heard.
The very next day I heard that the council had come along and strimmed the verges alongside the river path and that the little patch of Lady's Smock where the Orange Tip had been feeding, along with many of the other wild flowers I'd seen, had been completely wiped out.
Ok, so the council have a duty to maintain this public footpath for human access, but where's the balance? Why no moderation? Do the council not recognise the ecological importance of this particular habitat? Perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the majority of the area they strimmed was set well back from the footpath and was causing absolutely no problems whatsoever to human walkers. It's not as if this was an area overgrown with brambles and nettles; it was a beautiful wildlife rich verge - and now it is no more.
The grasses and wild flowers will of course grow back, but as soon as they do they will be strimmed again. In the mean time, food will be more scarce for local fauna.
We have lost 97% of our grassland and wild flower meadows since the 1940s so surely we should be protecting what little remains rather than strimming it to within an inch of it's existence...
I'm going to contact Worcsestershire Council to see if I can find out more about their 'strimming' policy, but in the mean time here are a few useful links for anyone who wants to know more about our ever diminishing grasslands, wildflowers and butterflies ....
The Grassland Trust - http://www.grasslands-trust.org/
Buglife - http://www.buglife.org.uk/
Butterfly identification - http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/index.php
Friday, 1 April 2011
I was chatting with a friend yesterday about this. We were discussing a blog we had both read, written by Mark Boyle - who puts his whole heart and soul into 'walking his talk'. Mark was writing about the difficulties he's been experiencing recently trying to make sense of what he sees going on around him in the English countryside. Wherever he looks, instead of seeing nature in all it's beauty, he sees the damage and destruction caused by mankind as we encroach more and more upon the natural world in our efforts to "kill everything that we think wants a piece of the human pie".
I can completely identify with Mark's sentiments. There are times when I sit on the hills, or in the woods, surrounded by so much natural beauty that my heart could burst with joy, only to be jolted back to reality when I remember in a flash that it is all under threat. I struggle so much so understand why the majority of people living on this planet are oblivious to the fact that they/we are destroying the very things that sustain and nurture us. How can we be so blind???!!!
Instead of competing with the incredible and diverse flora and fauna we are lucky enough to share the earth with, we should be putting our efforts into living alongside nature; co-operating with her; compromising; and establishing symbiotic relationships. Surely that's what co-habiting is all about? But the human race, for all it's so called intelligence, doesn't seem to have understood these very basic and natural laws of survival. Rather than live in harmony alongside nature, we prefer to 'control', to 'use', to 'harness', to 'rule', to 'own'. So, as masters of all we survey, we plunder and pollute the earth's resources as though they were put there entirely for our own use and as if they were in limitless supply. Now, even though the consequences of our actions are staring us in the face, we completely ignore the warning signs. Bizzare and dangerous behaviour.
It's exhausting just thinking about the amount of problems in the world. It's not only the environmental and ecological issues that we need to face and deal with, but also the unprecedented scale of social injustice. I read yesterday that of the 6 billion people living on this planet, over 1 billion are hungry. That's one in six.... and that's just the hunger issue ....never mind all the atrocities that less fortunate beings than ourselves are forced to deal with. How on earth do you decide where to start when there is so much to do? Maybe it's not such a surprise that the majority of us more 'fortunate' beings are still in denial. It takes courage to face up to what's happening in the world and it's much easier to switch off and carry on with 'business as normal'.
Unfortunately, nothing will change if we keep burying our heads in the sand. Facing up to what's going on is imperative if we are to effect change. It's not going to be an easy ride, but I truly believe the universe will support us if we wake up and have the courage to say "enough". It's time to stand up and be counted, to face the music, to go cold turkey, or whatever it takes to be part of the change.
You don't need to take it all in at once... just open your eyes a little more each day and start looking around to see where you could begin to make changes. Get out some time this week for a walk in nature and allow yourself to be filled with awe by her abundance. Also, allow yourself to feel sad about what we've done to the planet, because out of this sadness will come the will to change. It's ok to be sad....to cry or to weep even. There's a movement known as 'Deep Ecology' that is all about feeling the pain of the earth and coming through the other side. I'll put a link about it below....
This is a great and wonderful time to be alive! We would not have been put on this planet at this time if we were not able to deal with what life is throwing at us. This is the time of 'The Great Turning' and we all have a part to play .... no matter how small that part might be.
Wishing you a day full of wonderment and positive energy.
Here's a beautiful message from the Hopi Elders to inspire you;
'We are the ones we have been waiting for' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrPDQeNo52M&feature=related
Mark's blog - http://www.justfortheloveofit.org/blog
Deep Ecology - http://www.joannamacy.net/deepecology/deep-ecology-links.html
Today I woke up - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XzKDou7FCU