The magpie – an incredible little video of a pet magpie.

I think if people could see how intelligent and emotional animals were capable of being they would treat them with more compassion.

This reminded me of my pet crow Joey.

 

Poetry – Back Home for Tea – a poem for the destroyers of nature!

Poetry – Back Home for Tea – a poem for the destroyers of nature!

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Back Home for tea

The world is now so small we can whizz round in our Leah Jets in no time at all. The logging companies have opened up the jungle to chop down the tallest trees and the hunters pour in through the new roads.

They machine gun rhino and elephant from trucks and light planes.

They take the tusks to carve and the horn to grind down as a cure for impotence (just what we need).

They chop the forest, murder our cousins – chimps, gorillas and orangutans, for bush-meat and still harpoon whales.

The great American hunters buy trophies. With a bunch of natives in tow they track lion, elephant and rhino and shoot with high-calibre rifle from a safe distance. They pay big money to kill off the last of the great beasts.

The palaeontologists say that the first sign of humans appearing on the scene is the total disappearance of all megafauna. We are the most cruel, brutal killers. We have the whole planet in our sights.

 

Back home for tea

 

Machinegun an elephant and rhino, or two,

On the African plain.

Then into the jungle

To pot a gorilla, chimp and whatever might remain.

Flit to Vietnam

To saw down a mighty tree,

Harpoon a Blue Whale

In the Sargasso Sea –

And back home for tea.

 

Opher 13.9.2016

Poetry – A Green Lung full of Fire

A Green Lung full of Fire

 

A great green lung full of fire.

Nature consumed by greed,

Killed by inequality.

Despite the fact that there’s more than enough

They always want more.

It’s an addiction.

 

While eight billion mouths need feeding

There are those

Who seek to exploit

Without a thought

For their effect on the planet.

It’s complete madness.

 

As climate changes and species die

The deniers

Ignore experts and scientists

In the face of overwhelming evidence.

It’s a tragedy.

 

Opher – 1.3.2020

It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

Heavy rain clouds hung on the horizon threatening a torrential downpour but we decided against the rainproofs. The sun was already blistering; the air so heavy with moisture that you could bathe in it. If it rained it would be a relief. We’d be soaked but our shorts and T-shirts would soon dry off. We set off along the rainforest trail to the music of cicadas and unseen birds.

The forest has a sweet scent of decay and vitality. Everywhere there is green – green leaves, green fronds, green lianas and green epiphytes. It feels alive. We are strangers in a new fecund world. We are searching for animals, our cameras at the ready. We find some too.

By the end of two weeks we have photographed sloths, iguanas, turtles, agoutis, parrots, macaws, flycatchers, monkeys, caiman, butterflies, moths and dozens more – each a delight to discover and a wonder to see. We have watched spider monkeys at play and capuchin monkeys cracking open coconuts, sloths slowly clambering through the foliage and huge iguanas, like dragons, clinging to tree trunks.

It felt so alive.

Our skin rusted in the sun and humidity. Our bodies adjusted, sitting on deck watching the jungle slip past, with a cool breeze in our face; rushing to put on our scant clothing to scamper up to the top for the sunrise, to search the deck at first light for giant moths, butterflies and beetles; sorting where to go, down jungle trails, canoe rides, or simply walking around. When in the unfamiliar even the ordinary is extraordinary. It is amazing how quickly one adjusts. This is our new normality.

Slowly we return home. The sun gradually loses its intensity. People take every opportunity to relish the last of its warmth, some asleep on loungers, some reading, some watching the seas for whales, dolphins or seabirds. We have left the tropical heat behind.

Back home we unpack, start on the mound of washing and go for a walk. No shorts, T-shirt and sandals but wrapped in layers of shirts, jumpers and thick coat topped off with hats, scarves and gloves.

Walking down the lane, looking out over the waterlogged green fields I could not help thinking what a mess we’ve made of it. This was the green Yorkshire countryside. Before the industrial revolution a landscape of forest, full of wildlife, now an endless denuded green desert, with just the odd crow and pigeon, plus a few creatures clinging on in the remaining hedgerows.

We live in the vestiges of the wonder of what once was. All over the world 8 billion mouths are busy devouring miracles.

Even in my lifetime I have seen the decline.

The bitter wind bites into my face. Rust is fading as the memories fade, as nature fades, tree by tree, hedge by hedge, ditch by ditch, bug by bug.

I have no camera with me. There is little to photograph. The creatures of my youth have disappeared.

It was a cold bleak Yorkshire day.

Poetry – Deserts – A poem for nature.

Poetry – Deserts – A poem for nature.

Deserts

I was travelling back from London on the train, belting past field after field of stubble. The harvest was in.

The only things moving were the odd crows and pigeons.

This was England. Where once used to stretch unbroken, dense forest, rustling to the sounds of insects, trilling to bird call, and providing food for deer, wild boar, bear and wolf, there is now a monocultural desert.

We have systematically cleared the forest to farm the land. The animals were cleared with it. We left tiny oasis of wasteland, woods, hedges and ponds in which the remnants of the rich fauna hung on – rabbits, hare, hedgehogs, newts, lizards, slow-worm, grass snake, dormouse and linnet.

Now they are being cleared. The modern farm equipment has no use for hedge or pond – the bigger the field the better.

Anything that dares to intrude into the desert we create is eliminated with pesticide, herbicide and machine. We don’t need them. They get their just deserts. 

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Deserts

Travelling through deserts

Filled with lifelessness –

Devoid of anything,

Even pity.

 

All that moves

Is the enemy

To be eradicated

With alacrity

 

Big or small

Feather or fin

There’s no room at the inn.

 

Hedge and pond

Bush and tree

Ripped out

In monocultural crime

Megafauna,

Microfauna,

Weed and seed,

All past their prime.

 

Opher 12.9.2016

If you want to check out my books –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Opher-Goodwin/e/B00MSHUX6Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1474040136&sr=1-2-ent

Roy Harper – The Tallest Tree – a homage to Chico Mendes

Roy Harpers tribute to Chico Mendes – The Brazilian conservationist who was murdered trying to save the Amazon rainforest.

He stood against the destruction and died for it.

The earth is possessed
By the curse of the west
Who devour
Newpaper furniture
Paparazzia by the hour
But a man with a vision
Believed
That tomorrow’s begun
And has to be won
And nobody here is reprieved
O Chico, Chico Mendes
The man in a million
Stood in the way
Stood his ground
For the earth
For the coming of day
The chorus of dawn
On the perch of each morning
Receives
A forest of tears
As the joy reappears
On their leaves
And believes
Sings his name
And the tallest tree
Forever stands
Beyond the flame
North south east and west
We can all reach the rest
Every day
Now is the chance
To set out together
For a beautiful day
Whoever saw it
A different way
Was a man in a nightmare
Too numb to the future
Of brilliant possibles
Ever to share
The same air
As the men in the clay
O Chico, Chico Mendes
There are men who are more than just men

Jersey – The Durrell Wildlife Park – Gerald Durrell

Jersey – The Durrell Wildlife Park – Gerald Durrell

‘The animals and plants have nobody to speak up for them except us, the human beings who share the world with them but do not own it.’ – Gerald Durrell 1972.

Gerald Durrell is one of my heroes. He was a naturalist who loved animals. He wrote about his early life on Corfu in the 1930s where he lived with his eccentric family and lived an idyllic life with all the animals he collected.

It was a life I could relate to. I spent my childhood wandering the fields, climbing trees, wading through ditches and ponds and collecting caterpillars, newts, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards and slowworms.

Gerald was passionate about conservation. He set up his Wild-life Park as a conservation project that came straight out of his love of animals. He, like me, was utterly distraught by the cruelty and mindless destruction of nature. He did what he could to conserve it.

I don’t like zoos. I don’t like wild animals being confined in unnatural environments for people to ogle at. But I was taken with this wild-life park.

Gerald Durrell was someone I would love to have met.

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Gerald Durrell’s house

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A photo of Gerald that reminded me of one of me when I was a similar age holding a chimp.

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Animal Rights – Plant Rights – Human Rights

Animal Rights – Plant Rights – Human Rights

Around 3 billion years ago a wondrous thing happened. The Earth had been cooling for a couple of billion years and conditions conspired to create something incredible. The first simple life-form was produced.

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The chances of that happening are so slight that it is possible that out of all the planets circling the 400 billion stars in our own galaxy this is the only instance where life has spontaneously formed. It could be that we are the only life in any of the two trillion galaxies that we know of.

Life is something special.

From that one single cell of life the whole spectrum of life on this planet has evolved – from the simplest to the most complex.

What we have all around us comes from that first cell. We are all its children.

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No plant or animal is more evolved than any other. We have all been around for exactly the same time.

Only humans would apply a value system to life. We try to create a hierarchy of importance.

We place plants at the bottom of the scale, then bacteria, then we work our way up through worms, slugs, insects to fish, then through amphibian, reptiles and birds to mammals – through mammals to monkeys then apes and finally us – human beings – the crown of creation. Some people don’t even accept that we are animals and related to everything else. Somehow we were uniquely created by a deity. We are not part of this at all.

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Except this is nonsense. Nothing is more important than anything else. We humans are just animals. We have merely organised living things according to their similarity to ourselves. In a biological sense plants are the highest form of life. Their cellular complexities is hundreds of times more complex than that of any human cell. We place a premium on intelligence. Consciousness and intelligence are merely survival characteristics evolved by organisms – nothing more.

I don’t mean to belittle the wonder of consciousness and intelligence – they are phenomenal. I merely point out that they are one of many equally fabulous wonders that life possesses. They are no more special.

Likewise we cannot know the level of consciousness of other creatures or even plants. We can only surmise.

Personally I believe we will soon discover that plants have a consciousness that is quite as good as ours. We will see.

The argument that I am making is that life is too fabulous to treat with the disdain that we have been treating it. We should be worshipping all of it for the wonder it is and protecting it with all our might.

I am a big advocate of human rights – but I am a bigger advocate of the rights of the rest of the spectrum of life. I think it is foolish to make distinction.

The message I would send is – protect nature, protect the plants and animals around us, conserve the wilderness and diversity. They all have as much importance and rights as we do.

This is what I have to say about the destruction we are doing to nature and a way forward.