Doom and Gloom

In a dark place. But a brighter world is ahead?

From the 44 million birds now thought to be missing-in-action in the British countryside since the late 60’s, to trouble in the Middle East (let’s hope the truce holds) to the Church I grew up in once again proving itself unable to take one step out of the past, it’s not exactly been a good news week. On the face of it, few weeks are, especially if one tends to read a lot of wildlife and environment news as I do. Whether it’s because positive stories make boring copy, or because things really are that bad, I don’t know, but in this the season of decay signs of hope are few and far between.

Meanwhile I’ve not got out enough, spending far too much time in the house, in the car, in labs, staring out the window at wind, rain and swirling rubbish in the streets, feeling vaguely ill and vaguely sorry for myself. If I think hard enough about it I’ve seen some great wildlife, from a 200-strong flock of lapwings to a lovely male wood duck on the lake at the end of our road. (Yes, I know they don’t ‘count’, but they’re still lovely!) But somehow they haven’t moved me as they normally should and would.

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Blogueuse invitée: M. Gorgebleue

M. Gorgebleue (By Daniel Bastaja, [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons)

Bonjour! Je suis très delighted to make your acquaintance.  Je m’appelle Monsieur Gorgebleue, une très jolie inhabitante de northern France. Monsieur et Madame Oiseau-chapeau et Monsieur et Madame Poisson cherched pour moi far and wide près de Calais last Jeudi, but got not one glimpse. Zey sought me high, zey sought me low. Zey sought me in the marais, zey sought me sous les arbres, zey sought me à côté de la mer. Mais zey did not catch me. For I am French! I am cunning, superior, far too clever for zese English types. Zey watched for me, crazy twitchers, but little did zey know zat I was watching zem. Come, je will tell you about it.

Tous les English twitchers, they are très jealous that fromage-munching oiseau lovers in France see me all of ze time – me, ze magnificent gorge-bleue, avec mon magnificent gorge bleue! Did je mention je suis très jolie? Zey would do anysink for to have me habite à Londres or some other stinky rosbif town. Mais, je suis très happy living dans la belle France. Why not?! For here, une gorge-blue comme moi can spend two hours having ze lunch, avec beacoup de vin, et two hours having ze nap afterwards. C’est magnifique, non? Whereas, zese stupid Anglo types are always chasing about after ze money, or ticking les oiseaux if zat way inclined, or whatever else it is zey do with zemselves. I tell you, zese Anglos are crazy!

And zese en particulier were crazier zan most. Getting up at le dawn, and catching a très early ferry from Dover (like Calais, mais wiz more cliffs and wizout le cheap wine), ze fools were full of le optimism. Avec une grande shopping list: honey buzzards, golden orioles, marsh warblers, melodious warblers – ze last two are very plain looking, hardly worth le bothering with. But zen, there was also moi. Le magnificent gorge-blueue, avec mon magnificent gorge bleue. Très jolie, I assure you. At least zey had some taste.

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I promise you this is really close. I just have a small camera!

Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey the national bird of America. And it would have been a fine choice: they’re magnificent creatures, proud, ancient and, well, truly wild.

If you want to know just how incredible turkeys are, read Illumination in the Flatwoods by Joe Hutto, one of my top reads of last year. His account of imprinting two broods of wild turkeys and his unconventional family’s first year in the Florida woods will probably make you envy the turkeys’ world so much you’ll want to be a wild turkey. The author was certainly struggling with his own species identity after a while: by his account even grasshoppers began to look pretty appetizing.
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