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As I arrived with a second car load of stuff at my new lodgings near Dorking in Surrey, I looked up and caught site of a wonderful thumbnail moon and there, hanging like a full stop on a moonbeam sentence was Venus.  Its extraordinary how such a sight can move your scientific reason and poetic soul at one and the same moment. I defy anyone who suggests one has more ‘truth’.

Venus struck me of late as I was heading south on the A3, heading home toward Liphhook. With Bluey my car in the garage , I was passenger to my friend Sarah Jane who was listening- at least I think she was!- as I vented my spleen over the state of the world. As I lifted my gaze to take in the ridge of Hindhead , I was pierced by the dazzling image of Venus in the still-bright sky. Watching her watching me lifted my mood completely.

Thinking about landscapes as I do, about how animals respond to differences in habitat size, shape and continuity, I wondered how the appearance of such a dazzling star in the December sky would affect or mammalian kindred. I have been reading a book by the biologist Alexandra Morton, gifted to me by my new friend Sarah Haney on a recent trip to Ontario, who describes in her book how the captive Orca Corky predicts the moment of sunrise on the side of her tank:

“There was Corky licking the spot and a few minutes later their was the  streak of light”

Alexandra Morton Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught US

I wonder how else non-human animals are affected by changes in moon and starlight.

 I have a poem about Venus in the making but now is not the time to share, so for now in humility I offer the wonderful William Wordsworth’s poem.

To The Planet Venus

What strong allurement draws, what spirit guides,
Thee, Vesper! brightening still, as if the nearer
Thou com’st to man’s abode the spot grew dearer
Night after night? True is it Nature hides
Her treasures less and less. Man now presides
In power, where once he trembled in his weakness;
Science advances with gigantic strides;
But are we aught enriched in love and meekness?
Aught dost thou see, bright Star! of pure and wise
More than in humbler times graced human story;
That makes our hearts more apt to sympathise
With heaven, our souls more fit for future glory,
When earth shall vanish from our closing eyes,
Ere we lie down in our last dormitory?








I know its not strictly wildlife and conservation but how many times have you seen a fox and just been caught by the simple primal connection that exists in that moment. The physical fox leaves but he’s still in your head.

“Sense her like my best kept thought/There still with my thickest blot/Like bees and toast to honey pots/ We stick ourselves to Sweet.”

I’m reminded of Ted Hughes poem The Thought Fox

I am the organisation of ants

I am the shoaling of fish

I am the pack instinct of wolves

I am the decay on the floor of the rainforest

I am predation

I am mycorrhizal fungi

I am the breaking of mountains

I am the north-westerly wind

I am soil formation

I am more than the summing of parts

I am Gaia

I emerge shining from a clay brain

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