Thursday 29 May 2014

A Scene from Nature

Spring being nearly over and the weather having taken a turn for the dismal, Springwatch is back with us. You know - the seasonal wildlife extravaganza fronted by creepy Chris Packham, gurning Michaela Strachan and eminently slappable Martin Hughes-Games.
 Last night's show offered an especially edifying vignette from nature. The Springwatch cameras have been trained round the clock on a bitterns' nest, where three chicks were successfully hatched - but alas, early yesterday morning one of the chicks was dead in the nest. Mother bittern tenderly took her late offspring in her beak, tilted her head back and painstakingly swallowed it. This was not easy - it was a well-grown chick - but mother bittern persevered until she had swallowed it entirely. But that was not an end of it: next mealtime, there she was again, regurgitating the semi-digested chick as food for her remaining brood, who tackled their sibling with gusto, but did not get very far with it. So the mother scooped up the remains and subjected them to further digestion. A second regurgitation proved successful and popular, and very little remained of the unfortunate chick.
Nature, eh - don't you just love it...

'Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life'
As Tennyson put it in In Memoriam A.H.H. - writing a full decade before Darwin went public and confirmed Tennyson's darkest intuitions about how Nature works. The poets always get there first.


  1. Interesting the adjective you use about Chris Packham. What apparatus do we have to discern the lineaments of others' souls than our own guesses and perceptions? How else do humans judge each other than through our senses and hunches - call it gut feeling? How stranger, perhaps, that we are so often right. Personally, I had a lot more time for Michaela's predecessor, Kate Humble. It may not have been her credentials as a naturalist I was principally taken up with, though. A bonny lass!

  2. Yes, Kate and the increasingly loopy Bill Oddie were the dream team I think...

  3. Joey Joe Joe Jr.30 May 2014 at 18:15

    I quite enjoy Packham's game of sneaking the titles of songs by a particular band into the show. Most impressive was somehow getting 'Killing an Arab' in when it was The Cure's turn. I have no idea who he's doing this time round though.

    Brit, the cricket in the rain banner has disappeared from Think of England and been replaced by a gloomy grey stop sign. I thought it quite sad.