30 September 2015


Murray Shanahan finishes his book The Technological Singularity like this:
As I watch a wren through the kitchen window, clinging to a hawthorn bush, I hope that we never lose sight of the things we already have that still matter, whatever the future holds.
This sends me back to Birds Britannica by Mark Cocker and Richard Mabey, who quote Max Nicholson:
The wren cannot adequately be described as a bird of woodlands, gardens, field, moors, marshes, cliffs or wastelands — although it is all of these — but must be looked at rather as a bird of cervices and crannies, of stems and twigs and branches, of woodpiles and fallen trees, of hedge-bottoms and banks, walls and boulders, wherever these may occur. Wrens cut across, or rather scramble under, the imaginary boundaries we are accustomed to draw between different types of country.
Cocker and Mabey also quote Jeremy Mynott on the St Kilda wren:
The bird is surely the wild spirit of the place. After all it has been there some 5000 years, whereas human occupation is thought to have lasted a 1000 years. Its piercing song can already be heard from among the rocks as you first approach the islands by boat, even above the noise of crashing waves and the cries of a million seabirds. The wren seems elemental — a tiny persistent life in these desolate landscapes governed by the huge impersonal forces of wind, tide and weather.
Image: RSPB

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