Appearances can be deceptive

There’s a Robin in beautiful weather at Crime Lake. If anyone wants to start or renew a connection with nature I always recommend starting with Robins. They challenge your perception of the natural world in many ways.

Robin - Crime Lake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Humans have an emotional reaction to them, interpreting their behaviour as ‘friendly’. They aren’t. They are following you because we’ve made wild boar functionally extinct and they rely upon humans to disturb the invertebrates upon which they feed. Gardeners are merely an acceptable substitute for grubbing pigs.

Humans interpret their singing as ‘joyful’ and ‘musical’. Their singing is actually a war cry, with desperate, territorial, bellicose posturing to secure the maximum territory for themselves. It even continues into winter. The successful Robins were the most aggressive in pursuing invaders and had more offspring who were more aggressive.

Robin - Crime Lake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Humans are ruining the previously relatively stable world of Robins by light and noise pollution. Robins are having to sing louder to be heard above the roar of traffic. The loudest Robins are the most successful and have louder-singing Robins as offspring. Robins are also exhausting themselves by singing under street lights at night when they ought to be roosting. Humans have evolved to have a perfectly natural fear of the dark, inherited from a time before we killed all our natural predators. Our ape-brains still have a pre-programmed reaction to forests and the dark which has led us to cut down the vast majority of trees and light up villages, towns and cities with bright lights at night on the grounds of safety.

My solution? Remove street lights, increase petrol and diesel prices, reduce speed limits drastically, give pedestrians and cyclists priority at all times, provide free high-quality public transport and expect people to take personal responsibility by carrying rechargeable or wind-up torches.

My solution? Nationalise all National Parks, remove all grazing pet and stock animals, reintroduce ‘apex predators’ like wolves and allow them to regenerate naturally as natural forest into National Wilderness.

Robin - Crime Lake - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Every time I express simple views like this I’ve been treated as a dangerous extremist, as totally impractical, as a dreamer or worse. Surprisingly it’s often the conservationists who have the most aggressive reaction. Suggesting that we need to stop the destruction of uplands by massive taxpayer subsidies to sheep farming is greeting with, “But I suppose it’s just land that wouldn’t be used for anything else.” Land doesn’t have to be used or exploited. It could just ‘be’, as a part of the natural world. Suggesting that we should let forests regenerate is greeted with, “But we’d end up with an oak monoculture.” Except that it wouldn’t be a ‘culture’, it would be the natural world.

Anyway, here’s a cheerful Robin enjoying itself in the sunshine. That’s if it can hear itself over the eight lanes of the M60.

What do you think of, when you see Robins?

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