Tuesday, 14 August 2012

August 2012

This year the weather all round the world has been particularly bizarre, which according to scientists is the result of global warming melting the Arctic ice shifting the jet stream.  There is virtually no doubt now that the root all this mayhem is our hell-bent obsession with everlasting growth to satisfy our ever rising population.

Unfortunately Holly Farm is not immune to the effects of weird weather! This year has seen fewer house martins and swallows than ever and a dramatic reductions of insects, yet life in Rookerywood seems to have held its own. While sitting at the water' edge on one of those warm early August days, my spirits were lifted after counting 8 species of dragonflies, while earlier in Spring a further 4 species could have been added to the list.  Twelve types of dragonfly living in and around a relatively small woodland pond is pretty impressive.
(southern hawker, brown hawker, emperor, banded demoiselle, common darter, large red damselfly, azure damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly, and earlier species - beautiful demoiselle, downy emerald, broad-bodied chaser, 4-spotted chaser)

Brown Hawker

On the same day my wife Liz and I made our butterfly count for 'British Butterfly Conservation', spotting 7 species (large white, green-veined white, speckled wood, meadow brown, gatekeeper and most exciting silver-washed fritillary and white admiral).  Three further species were seen earlier in the year (large skipper and red admiral) but sadly no commas, peacock or small tortoishells, the latter two becoming scarcer here as each year passes) 

Such a diverse range of butterflies and dragonflies seen in a small patch of deer protected wood is testament of what can be achieved through, enthusiasm,  gentle management and empathy with living things - perhaps small compensation for our total impotence in 'rescuing' the rest of world's wild places. Mankind will not succeed in saving habitats and the life therein by pussyfooting around the margins. As each generation follows another, the insidious decline passes unnoticed: it is just accepted. We have no real concept of what the countryside was like say 50, 100 or 200 years back, but we do know that it was indescribably richer and more diverse than it is now.

Our anthropocentricism and warped attitude to economic progress, is at the root of the problem. I am convinced that the best way to prevent futher decline is to capture the imagination of the young at an early age through nature study lessons, as at this time most children are fascinated by animals and of course are particularly impressionable. Of course this may take a generation or two to work, but it should change our whole attitude to the natural world. Humans have an instinctive love of nature, albeit usually suppressed by modern life, which according to the eminent American naturalist Edward Wilson is a part of our DNA - biophilia he calls it.

Nature study should be a central part of the primary school curriculum. Kids need to be taken outside by enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers to experience and learn about the countryside and the wondrous life it sustains. The subject is just as, or arguably more important than any other school subject, and if taught on a large scale cauld go a long way to save life on earth. 

In spite of the huge number of frogs and toads breeding in
  Rookerypond, surprisingly I have not seen many grass-snakes
    here. Yesterday though one swam majestically from one bank
 to the other.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with your desire for children to be more aware of nature. A recent survey in the UK found that more than a third of 16 to 23-year-olds (36%) do not know bacon comes from pigs and four in 10 (40%) failed to link milk with an image of a dairy cow, with 7% linking it to wheat. Any chance of publishing a picture of a Big Mac running wild in your meadow?