The Dawn chorus is such an intrinsic part of my growing up and probably one of the most comforting aspects of living in the world period. It represents without any sense of time fixed, an unfolding…
The Dawn chorus is such an intrinsic part of my growing up and probably one of the most comforting aspects of living in the world period. The celestial skies spilling fourth with a vibrant humming, a swooping and dancing show as they go about their own business, building nests, searching for food, roosting and filling the world up with chatter, song and good energy. I am grateful they are there in chorus and view…however there has been a massive drop in numbers..Why is this…
Feel free to click on to this whilst reading my latest blog on behalf of all Ornithology as the Dawn Chorus in the British Countryside performs.
As a nature lover who grew up on a farm yet learnt my crafts in the city, which led me to an enquiring mind covering the social, environmental and economy aspects as I try to find my place here on earth whilst asking who I am, what is my purpose, and what an amazing spiritual journey this life is as I experience potentiality in a physical dimension. However it really hit home when my daughter Baby Metta-Angel was born in 2002 and I noticed that there was no morning song from the birds outside, and yet all looked normal with a full planted garden with trees, flowers, grass laid outside my bedroom. I felt a chill run down my back as I nursed my baby and questioned what is going on?
Every Saturday afternoon when I get back from market , I tune in to the Gardening Programme on Radio 4, and always the main issues with fertility in soils, gardens and pests, a point of view always come in when the expert remarks on the loss of habitats for pest controllers, of which are birds, then swiftly talks of bird decline, and then the over use of intensive chemicals on farming systems in the UK. Gardens are now considered to be ‘The Front Line’ habitats for the health and wellbeing of our great traditional intrigue, adoration and love of these sentient creatures as we make sure that there is food in their feeding trays and boxes with plenty of water.
Living in central London I am of course aware there is a lot of people, traffic, offices, with less parks. I am fortunate to live with a private garden outside our window, of which the clever Fox and her family have lived in as long as I’ve been here and every late winter, we all get to hear their family getting ready for their cubs to be born. They are charming, noisy and a regular part of life here. Even last week as I listened to our poetry greats on Radio 4 discussing writer Rosemary Tonks(https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/31/rosemary-tonks-lost-poet who became a recluse after much success as a published writer/poet, she retreated to Dorset finding her own spiritual path to God, and gave up on giving interviews, however a journalist visiting before her death, remarked that she would rush out to her garden as greeting dear old friends from afar visiting, calling out Darling Darling, your’e back, so lovely to see you, only though they were birds, harbingers, messengers and angels from God, who would come with news comforting, admonishing or warning Rosemary. She honestly felt they were divine messengers as did my father also. He too laid bare the orchard and vegetable patch for two reasons – laziness and that they were feeding paradises for incoming birds from their stretches on migrational charts. Growing up on the farm was indeed no easy matter when living in the house with Aunty Binks and co..none the less, the experience of living on a farm in the 70’s drew upon my natural instinctive joy of living amongst animals, birds, insects, creepy crawlies, and the blessed elements of seasons, summers, winters, spring and autumn.
We had a river running through the most spectacular water meadows; that water meadow was a site of specific interest (SSSI) as were the lower common, bushy field, and a few others dotted in that well preserved land. That land had never been ploughed up, so it was filled with rare flora and fauna, hundreds of different grasses, vetches, clover, seeds and saplings alike which only had thoroughbred horses and cows grazing contentedly on the land. The Water meadows would flood without fail seasonally washing nutrients over that soil that was gold. This is everything that is right with the world. One that nature and God, are together in a place, a paradise, a heaven that is inter-woven in a settled and useful earth and yet when I wake up to listen eagerly to the dawn chorus, it has gone. It is a whisper. Even Nigel who runs a successful Lovages and Herbs stall at Nottinghill Gate Farmers Market and Islington selling the most delicious organic seasonal foodstuffs he grows and plants. He admitted that his spot in the countryside outside in the satellite county bordering Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire a noticeable lack of the usual birds ringing, singing and expressing their love of living in our physical dimension.
Thirty/forty years ago the countryside was flourishing with the dawn chorus.
Today we have a problem and as a practicing environmentalist, I sit here trying to raise awareness, and write out my own relationship in the lessening of bird life trying to make head or tale sense.
In 1947 – this year is significant, not only was David Bowie …my higher power…was born, it was a year under rations that would last till 1954. Britain froze this snow filled winter and after the War effort, something new was coming in… an insurgence of new systems that would revolutionise and stabilise the way we view food, farming and our relationship with it was being paved by the battle cries of the new media, and the bellowing call of increasing the yields in the fields which would be paid for by the British people in a new subsidy system. It was devised by The Ministry of Food and Fisheries, aka, MAFF, now DEFRA and with the help of our largest chemical company, ICI. CEO Sir Malcolm Gavin and Government came together to devise a way that would increase profits, yields and crucially gain control. It was known as The Agricultural Act and it came in in 1947. It made men rich, gave assurances to Farmers that they would never suffer again so long as they signed up to this subsidy system and of course, it meant that every acreage had a price upon its head.
Frederick James Marquis who became Viscount 1st Earl of Woolton for his services in War time Britain who oversaw the rationing of food who coined the belief in “the establishment, under private enterprise, of partnership in industry, whereby all ranks engaged in it shall … share in the increased yield that comes from greater effort or increased skill”
Yes the climate after the Second World War was tempered and our national debt was humongous with the worse winter on record, floods in Spring and the hottest summer in 300 years. Rationing extended to bread for the first time, milk allowance reduced, the coal industry was nationalised, with a first atomic reactor opened at Harwell, Oxfordshire, We handed India back, a jewel in our crown, with a baby boom in full swing and the US Marshall Plan was under construction to bring down the curtain and non-essential motor driving was outlawed to save on fuel. However as all said and done, the British people had survived the war and in pretty good health. Every urban garden along with Anderson shelters, had chickens, pigs vegetables, fruit trees, an aptitude for foraging blackberries, cherries, seasonally gluts, bounties for free, in the trees, hedges, woods, parks , lanes and a good idea how to cook up a storm whilst the war was raging. Britons became truly authentic is standing up for each other, in a sharing and caring society to help all, not a few. The WI (Womens Institute) also put out recipes, and helped enormously bridging all classes, all sexes and creeds together to keep us well fed, turned out and jolly as all generations helped with the war effort to sustain and nourish the population. It is often said, that the people were healthier than ever before, as sugar, and white grains were hard to find, meaning everything was cooked from scratch, grown locally and without the use of pesticides, and fertilisers.
Then around the late 70’s something happened. Each year The Cuckoo would come to grace our ears with that wonderful May sound heralding spring has sprung. I too would love to hear my father and my own self, recount how birds were very important indicators of how healthy our land was. Then it began to falter. Comments of the swallows are not here, and whilst the Blackbird always delivered, the multitude and dawn chorus became less and less.
As industry, commerce, profit and the rise of a different world entered all our psyche, the relentless ploughing up of ancient furrow fares, fields and meadows began to shape out a very different landscape to the once small, manageable and densely covered edges of the fields with hedges, woods, copses, and so on. The carving up of the countryside acutely and chronically decimated the look, feel, taste, hear and touch of all that we are. Run off from chemicals drenched and seeped into the underground water tables, wells & water-ways, polluting river beds with heavy industrial cocktails, and into the channels leading out to the sea. It didn’t take long to notice that things were not right with nature, its richness and varieties began to suffer and in that, a shadow was falling across the land as trees fell, and the balance required for all life, started to wobble horribly.
In 1977 myxomatosis spread across the countryside that wiped out indigenous hares, rabbits and domestic pets if they were outside in runs. It starts with runny eyes and in the very early stages can be confused with other causes of conjunctivitis. However, myxomatosis differs as the genitals are also swollen. It rapidly progresses to a severe conjunctivitis which causes blindness and is accompanied by lumpy (nodular) swellings on the head, plus lumps on the body. Excessive amounts of thick pus discharges from the nose and swollen eyes (which are often sealed shut). There are also two atypical forms of myxomatosis: one causes pneumonia and a snuffles-like illness; the other (“Nodular myxomatosis”) mainly affects skin and carries a better prognosis. hit our countryside with hares drugged and maimed all over the roads and tracks. As a youngster, it was a devastated attack on wildlife that was man-made and in 2000 another attack arose, it was hushed up, and rabbit pets were advised to be vaccinated.
The once rich fertile soils needed for excellent rude health was becoming desert-like needing more and more intensive chemicals to keep crops performing. From the extensive chalk lands, to the highlands, hardly any where was left untouched, unless some do-gooder, walker, ecologist, bird watcher happened to raise up the flags for biodiversity bravely pronounced it a duty to save some of the once diverse and rich countryside.
Today we have lost up to 89% of our indigenous wildlife, grasslands, uplands, soil fertility, orchards, and all parts of a once vibrant and sort after green England. Our ideology of what we considered Natures Basket was eroded in principles that broke not only our connection to seasons, but also we began to lose our soul to our own downward spiralling of lower health and wellbeing that shapes all of us. We have gotten lazy and over reliant on cheapened foodstuffs, filled with additives, laced in colourants, salts, preservatives and things that we can now leave on the shelf for months and years. In a nut we have all got used to low-grade, mass intense, imported, freeze-dried, frozen, canned, packaged foods whilst small holders, producers, growers have shrunk disproportionately and large landowners tied to the shareholders, Hedge funders, derivatives and so on have meant that we are now in a perilous state in how we tackle not only the disastrous impact it has created to wildlife and its soils, but to our own health.
We rely on Big Pharma & Big Farmer – both subsidised to the hilt. My ex bf, Caleb Cox aka Instinctive Expression, wrote this and I think it sums up how we are now more tied in to a massive scandalous system that does not wish to help you get better, but to keep you drugged up on poor food, poor medicine and poor information.
A BBC journalist who changed his life by living learning self sufficient small holding, providing food for his family and then raising awareness to the benefits of locally grown produce. The Good life![/caption]Today when we walk out into the countryside, take a train, picnic, car, we imagine a countryside filled with birds, insects, plants, clean and bountiful, and yet what really we see are set asides, fragmented islands left for us to tally and remember tokens of yesteryear, yet if you really look closely, there are no birds, insects buzzing, no sound to be heard, just a dull, empty less than void of a smattering of once rich filled sounds. Now at most a desert that is covered annually in mass intensive chemicals still paid for by you and me, is what we have. Most Farmers are now Business men providing industrial generic crops of mainly wheat, that is so poorly lacking in nutrition, and yet is in most goods in the super markets, the British people and western diet is grossly dished out in repetitive Ads, that we have become addicted to the chemicals. When the Chorley Woodexperiment was rolled out in the late 50’s, it was a boon for big biz as it demonstrated the fast yeast activation process was now a thing to celebrate as loaves were sliced, and packaged fast, intensely and cheaply. However this bread is everything that is wrong with human health, ingestion, digestion and glue. It has taken just under 60 years for individuals to feel the wrath of bad bread that gets stuck in the gut causing huge problems for the body to eliminate such levels of blandness.
Over three-quarters of children do not understand where their food comes from. In times before, children up and down the country would know where to go for foraging foods to gorge upon whilst out playing all day in all-weather, no matter what. That was our growing up. That has changed too. . Today we bow down to celebs and money people, saturated in glossy high-profile status’, pulped dry and highly contagious in digital online mags, as they run around singing songs they didn’t write, parading fashion they were styled in whilst being good little citizens for model behaviours in every which way they turn, we follow. It’s all about the look, feel and sale of consumptive packaging right throughout every single step of our lives. And yet underpinning all that is, is this very telling psychology that is a big fat poverty consciousness and fear mongering daily fed by main stream, it’s no wonder we are so conflicted.
What we humans are now witnessing is not only the mass demise of the natural kingdoms, but the loss of our own vibrancy, potency and potential to keep upwardly inclined in all our habits, in order to live a full and rich life. It is as though a strange money man walks the earth , prices the habitats, sends in pirates of sorts to mark out territories and then either does one or two things, make a war, or and , loan monies to leaders to give them aid for schools, hospitals, manufacturing plants, etc etc, sell them our supposed wonderful lifestyles, expose them to our money management systems, bankers, clerks, accountants, lawyers, skull duggery and on it goes, keep the relentless march of money men and their machines to rip our the lungs of forests. I refer to these groups of business hierarchy as:The Codex.
It is time to switch off the lifeline of business as usual echo, and prepare to slow down, become part of a slow movement which takes gulp-fuls of fresh clean air, drinks from the fountain ever abundant, and reflects as to who we are, and what we do. If we do not halt this continuous trajectory, there will be no elephants, bears, tigers, rhino, forests, grasslands, uplands, chalk lands, bumble bees, butterflies, and all the wonderful dawn chorus’s that have been so much apart of our own heritage since man became conscious, as David Attenborough now speaks in volumes, the kingdoms will pass through corridors of wildlife, as land is turned over to huge industrial farms feeding industrial cows, and animals as we eat off the diets that dumb us all down, a diet filled with sickness and disease, a run away market ever wanting more and more, with a sort of trance like behaviour becoming the norm.
Its time to stand up, look around your room, and ask yourself, are you healthy, happy, creative, imaginative, inspired? Then observe that which arises and make small steps towards changing how you are in your environment, in your work and home.
Health shouldn’t just be about stuffing drugs into a sick person, putting food into a microwave oven, and chiming we never had it so good, but rather we remember that we are all one, with immense feelings, and capacity to make changes just by self realising we all have the power to switch to a more fair and ethical way of living.
Today more than ever, for man to really flourish, his goals should reflect a sense of duty to all humanity and all ecology, not just the same fixed quotas poured on mass industrialists from mass media that keeps up the same mass drone of self-importance in how much you earn, what you do, and what becomes of your life in measuring success.
We are all addicts to the same brain washing that causes us to gorge on pizza’s, pasta’s, animals, sugars, fats, salts, chemicals, on systems that keep on advertising the importance of these products and services that become obsolete as soon as they break or a new fad gadget, system comes into play. If you see, and hear enough, Justification plays on one’s consciousness.
We are driving ourselves to early graves by our self-importance, ignorance and sloth as we keep up with the jones’s. Meanwhile we are losing the flowers required to feed the bees, birds, insects that pollinate our trees, fields, meadows, wild uplands, low lands, our love of being in nature, is continuously under the watchful stocks and shares of a few men that we hand all our power over to, because we are all ourselves creatures of habit and as we become less able to realise that we are all a-part of nature and yet we are falling a-part of nature in our collective choices in the relentless need for supremacy in how we conduct and cause harm in our social, environmental patterning. It is as though we have forgotten to feel how good it is to eat mindfully, engage in how our food is grown, stop purchasing mass subsidised, grossly negligent inferior foodstuffs because we somehow have all been brain fogged into illusionary benefits of buying cheap food.
It is time to stop buying into adverts, authorities, grim reapers, Big Pharma, Big Farming, Big polluting industries, Big Banks, Big this and Big That, for we know honestly that when we lost the Big Trees, and Big Forests and Big Animals and Big Sea Creatures, We ourselves jeopardise our future generations, is it really worth it?