Simon Barnes was speaking on Radio 6 the other Sunday morning, promoting about his book “Rewild Yourself: 23 spellbinding ways to make nature more visible”. He has ideas to get everyone to be more in touch with the natural world around us. One suggestion – to learn the songs of some common birds which – is exactly what Mrs B and I have been doing recently too. We reckon we have learnt the great tit, song thrush, robin, blackbird and chaffinch so morning strolls are now very much a multi-sensory affair as we listen out for birdsong.
And bird song is not the only sound that attracts the attention at the moment as the countryside reverberates to the drumming of greater spotted woodpeckers on hollow branches, and the overhead thrum of closely packed wings as a flock of starlings arrives at a nearby tree. Whenever I see starlings I recall one sixth former from a private girls school asking the question “starling….is that anything to do with that bloke in Russia?” The subsequent incredulity of staff and students said it all: thirteen years of school fees for this? Some serious rewilding needed there.
Mrs B and I were very much at one with our natural environment on the morning dog walk this week. We listened to the song thrush which regularly sings at the top of the same tree each morning; we watched flocking starlings and spectated as two deer fled the attentions of our hopelessly out-paced labrador. Potentially a pet dog might have a negative impact on the local ecology, but those deer will be fitter and healthier for the hundred workout sprint they put in before the dog threw in the towel. Ella proceeded to flush out a couple of pheasants and then a rabbit but she was no nearer catching them than she was the deer. She might have had a chance with a grey squirrel – but she did not spot that – and fortunately failed to see the badger bumbling which was oblivious to our presence just fifteen yards away. We put the dog on the lead: this was one piece of wildlife she would probably do well to avoid.
Back home the (flocking) starlings were trying to get back into their nest sites under the tiles of the house. I’ve put wire over some of the holes to stop this so now, as I sit at my desk, all I can hear is them scratching away at the bars trying to get in – like an avian Andy Dufresne in reverse. I would not mind them being there, but we decided to evict them when they started removing loft insulation and depositing large tufts around the garden.
So no more artificial domesticity for them – I am encouraging them to do their own bit of rewilding.