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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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EditorialsUp Front 04/09

Up Front 04/09

Occasionally we get a reminder of just how much most of us take for granted in life. Last week my five-year-old great nephew was walking to school with his mother. He had just had a minor operation to deal with a problem known as ‘glue ear’. As they walked along the road he suddenly stopped and put his hands over his ears. A look of fear covered his face as he asked his mother what the strange noise was. He began to back away getting more and more frightened, unable to understand what he was hearing. Perplexed, his mother tried to get him to explain the noise. There were no cars, no big trucks, no planes, not even construction work nearby. Eventually she discovered that the noise he was describing was birdsong. Little Danny had never heard birds sing before. Once he understood, he was so excited he asked if they could buy a bird so he could listen to it. He wanted to know if, after school, they could go and sit in the garden and just listen to the birds. Also this month, a temporary internet radio station that broadcasts a loop recording of birds singing, including blackbirds, swallows and robins, has decided to remain on air after over half a million listeners tuned in. Worrying, however, is the news that due to climate change many species of European bird may not survive. Indeed in his new book, Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo, Michael McCarthy calls for action to stop what he sees as a wildlife tragedy. Much as I might not miss the pheasant that got me out of bed and sitting at this desk at 5.30 this morning, I don’t want to have to tune in to the internet to hear the sound of birds singing.

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