Tuesday, 26 March 2013



I was watching a hen blackbird drink from the bird-bath the other day, in fact, I watch her drink almost daily as I stand at the kitchen window washing up, listening to the squabbles of sparrows in the beech hedge. She flies in, sits on the rim of the bath, looks around then delicately takes a sip. Head back, you can almost see the water trickle down her tipped back throat. And again. A sip, head back. Belly full of eggs. Water soothes her thirst. She drinks with grace.

Now magpies, on the other hand, bend sharply chunkily swaggeringly and drink, almost grabbing at the water. Once twice, quick look around. Then off!

I watched a handful of baby sparrows last spring/summer. A blackbird was bathing with that abandoned sensuous motion they have when splashing and washing. The splashings attracted the young birds who gathered tumblingly around the bath. One of them tentatively put its toe in so to speak. The blackbird looked round – you could see it almost glared at the temerity of the youngster to enter its watery territory. The young one had a go at bathing, imitating the blackbird who by this time had almost finished washing and allowed the young sparrow to share its bath water. Once one got the hang of, they all piled in. It was a beautiful sight!

Now imagine if there weren’t any birds. Because there were no more insects. No more plants and flowers. Why? Because no more bees to pollinate the plants and flowers.  No more joy at sharing our earth home with others, non-human, earth-dwellers. No more birds or animals, insects, amphibians to populate our dreams, to paint on cave walls, to spin and weave our myths.

If we lose the birds, lose the insects, the animals, trees, grasses, our imaginations will shrink, become a wasteland, just as the physical earth will be. Scorched, stunted, shrivelled.

Buds are coming through on the hawthorns now. I never really looked closely at them before. How rose pink and shiny they are, how from that deep pink, tight bud springs the fresh green we ate as children, bread and cheese…. How the yellow-hammer sings it to us ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese!’

"Pity Earth's Creatures"

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