Last swarm of the season (we hope) waving goodbye-or is that hello?- in their own unique way. I wondered about that title when I uploaded this video to YouTube, even with the ‘Nature’ subject heading on it (or maybe especially with that subject heading). But I decided to take my chances.
This was the 4th swarm from our garage bees, occurring on 23 May (I always run a few weeks behind on these blogs especially in summer). We had someone from one of our local bee collectives come and collect (he’s the one who spotted our warring robins). So, 2 swarms escaping our grasp and 2 re-homed by us and another.
I think we are over the swarming. We have let them settle a bit and just this week did an examination of the garage hive and the nuc-ed swarm. More about that in the next bee post, but let’s just say we are keeping a watch on the garage bees….
For some reason, I enjoyed this year’s Springwatch more than in previous years, perhaps because I focused more on the webcams and some of the more interesting extra film footage instead of the general foolery and such declarations as “my all-time favorite bird” (what are they, 10 year-olds? Next they’ll be telling us about their favorite color and the gross food they won’t eat).
But I digress, for aside from all that and the obsession with male animals (ok stop now), they did surprise me a couple of times by their presentation of more startling views, the kind that would certainly rattle the “I love nature” brigade.
Firstly, they had a regular slot on tawny owls, film footage taken by a guy in Cheshire called Dave Cully who actually is better known as a sparrowhawk enthusiast (you can see footage here http://www.sparrowhawk-island.co.uk/live_sparrowhawk_and_wildlife_cams.php). Way back in the beginning of the year, the female produced four eggs over a period of 10 days. Of course, once they hatched, there were rather significant size differences between the chicks. So far, so warm and fuzzy. However, things started looking a bit grim, resulting in a scene best expressed by the UK Daily Mail:
Springwatch viewers horrified by footage showing live owl being ripped apart by its own mother and fed to its siblings in ‘Game of Thrones’-style scene
Now, anyone who has read this blog somewhat regularly will not be surprised that I actually considered this one of Springwatch’s finest hours. The “I love nature” brigade need to know that it is not all Disney, that animals do not have some kind of inherent morality (aside from the ones dictated by hunger and self-preservation). And in this, they are quite similar to the apex of all apex predators, humans. The BBC could have edited this, they didn’t. Good for them.
This clip and the reaction instantly reminded my husband of this:
The second rather controversial view they aired took place in an interview with a guy named Fred Pearce, author of:
According to the Amazon blurb:
In The New Wild, Pearce goes on a journey across six continents to rediscover what conservation in the twenty-first century should be about. Pearce explores ecosystems from remote Pacific islands to the United Kingdom, from San Francisco Bay to the Great Lakes, as he digs into questionable estimates of the cost of invader species and reveals the outdated intellectual sources of our ideas about the balance of nature. Pearce acknowledges that there are horror stories about alien species disrupting ecosystems, but most of the time, the tens of thousands of introduced species usually swiftly die out or settle down and become model eco-citizens. The case for keeping out alien species, he finds, looks increasingly flawed.
One of his contentions is that usually non-native species will flourish in environments which have been decimated (by guess who?). For instance, red squirrels only flourish in one kind of forest, one that happens to be almost virtually destroyed in England. Grey squirrels are more flexible. Although Pearce can be argued on specifics, his premise is one that is worth considering.
The BBC gave his view a pretty sympathetic airing (on red-button Unsprung, though, not on prime time Springwatch), despite at the time filming from a reserve maintained by an organisation which has set its cap against more than one non-native species. I have to give it credit for that.
And now I have to go lie down, being overcome as I am from all my open-mindedness….