A striking male yellowhammer visited my garden this morning, a darting shaft of gold and brown.
It was not unusual, here, but whenever I see this beautiful bird I watch it with love and thanks for the gift of its presence. Yellowhammers are part of the sad statistics of declining or endangered bird species, and their rareness makes them all the more special.
It would be easy to anticipate the time when they are gone altogether, just a record of what once was, along with other local birds like redstarts, pied flycatchers and redstarts which also are threatened, but instead I try to remember the species that have survived for more than 15000 years, such as swallows and house martins, and that their example of continuity despite adversity gives hope that many of the declines can be reversed.
In a wider context, it would be easy to become depressed by the state of the world, which feels as if it is holding its
breath while we watch its downward spiral. Politics in the UK, France and the USA are uncertain, to say the least, based on surprise, promise and illusion along with a paper-thin veneer of normality that slips more and more often. Like the state of the yellowhammer, ethics among the powerful seem to be vanishing, though they can be found still here and there if we look for them.
Looking at the scripted dance of an uninspiring British election, and the unscripted chaos of an unpredictable US presidency, it is clear that politics is in decline too, but it does not have to be terminal. Just as certain birds evolve through their challenges to become stronger, so our global communities can learn from their difficulties, choosing a new, more minimal style of governance based on local interest and need. The worse the debacles of the present, the more hope there is for the future, though there is much work that needs to be done to achieve the vision of a fair new world. I am hopeful, both for the future of our wildlife, and the future of humanity.
(Image by Andres Trepte www.photo-natur.net.)