Don't forget who you are

There is a bird in Australia that has forgotten his song and I am beginning to know how he feels. I have been here, at home, for so long that I wonder if I will lose my song too.

A Department of Health email has arrived to say that people who have been shielding can go out in April and, obeying the lockdown rules, we can join the rest of humanity. Of course, I will not rush out I am waiting for my second vaccine, then three weeks after that – well maybe. What will it be like talking to people and being with friends again?

There are, of course, online video connections and recently I did my first zoom conference. I ‘met’ some new people who do not know me in real life, and it was exciting. But what will it be like sitting round a table for a discussion? Will we enjoy eating out after making our own meals with our own produce for a year?

Maybe, like the poor regent honeyeater bird in Australia, I will have forgotten how to contact others.

The honeyeater bird is very rare now. Its numbers have fallen to only 300 left in the world and they do not get the chance to mix with others like themselves. That means one bird hardly ever hears another of its kind singing its song. In desperation he has started to copy other birds’ songs and is losing his own voice. The answer seems to be to record the honeyeaters’ song from birds in captivity and play it back to the few wild birds left. The hope is that the wild ones will hear and relearn their own song. They will learn again who they really are.

There is no such worry though, with the big black rooks in our tall trees nesting in huge rookeries. Throughout the winter I have seen them together in large flocks in the fields. They have been scouring the soil for food like insects, grubs, or seeds. Now, rooks have gone back to the treetops and repaired their nests or built new ones and laid eggs. They nest early, literally, to catch the worms. They feed their nestlings on worms which begin to come to the surface in April.

You can hear the rooks shouting at each other all day long and, because there are so many, they are in no danger of forgetting who they are. Their loud raucous calls travel through our villages and if you are nearby it is almost deafening.

The clocks went forwards this weekend and so do we, learning all over again who we are.

(Taken from my column in Thursday's Shropshire Star - with Vicky Turrell)



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