An early morning in December, the drizzle falling almost warm, mistle thrushes
chuckling ominously from a stand of old yews. Apart from them not a living soul
to be seen. Around me an old-fashioned park with huge holm oaks, before me a
football pitch forming a glade in its midst. I had lost my way in unfamiliar
surroundings, didn't know which way to turn, and there was no one to ask. Had
the citizens taken to their souterrains, their round towers? But lo and behold,
there was some movement: a team of Lilliputians training lineouts on the pitch!
The next second they were flushed by a stray dog, and the magic moment was gone.
Not Lilliputians, but geese, grazing on the green. Maybe this was a city
inhabited by dogs and geese only?
Wait for me, geese, I wonder what Latitude or Longitude have i got to?
To the notebook: St Anne's Park, 0830: 122 Brent geese, some wearing colour-rings on both tarsi.
|I learnt to read when i was five, one of those dreadful and unhappy, precocious and absolutely unbearable children. My mother took me to the library; i got a card there, had wept over "The Last of the Mohicans" before i was seven, and knew my "Robinson Crusoe" by heart. (That is very revealing). So my mother went to the adult library and pleaded for me: couldn't he be allowed to borrow a book or two there, once in a while? I was ten when English appeared on the school timetable for the first time, it was in 1953, that same year i brought home a book from the natural history section of the library: "Birds and Men", by one E. M. Nicholson. It was bound in green leather, printed on glossy paper, had the most peculiar scent, probably from its being so impregnated with ornithological learning. It was a magical object, to be possessed, like the Book of Kells, so i borrowed it again and again for several years. It just stood there on the shelf; i doubt i could read more than three lines of it the first year. I know i couldn't. So, it must have been that most peculiar scent. Ah, i can still smell it!|
|This happened in the mid-fifties. My father worked in a spinning industry in Limhamn, a suburb of Malmö. One of the workers there had a dovecot, where wild birds used to enter in order to share the food of the pigeons. He told a story of two strange doves that had entered on a cold winter's day; he had closed the door and locked them up till spring came. In May they bred in a sawed-off coffee tin, hatching two young. The rumour spread around, and i, as an interested young birdwatcher, was invited to have a look at them. I stood outside the cage, seeing the Collared Dove for the first time in my life, and i turned on him, accusingly: But they are WILD! He shrugged his shoulders: How on earth would i know? They look perfectly tame to me.|
|Dublin: a black pool of pollution, noise, poor planning and bad habits. An endless desert of terraced houses: little boxes on the hillsides. Half a score of areas that are absolutely sickening - go and enjoy the Mars landscape at Clongriffin Dart Station (welcome to the real world)! A traffic noise and traffic emissions that can't be cured, must be endured. (Disturbing noise is considered to begin at 55 dB, and that is most of Dublin City; only Phoenix Park is blessed with 45 - 50 dB in the daytime). IT'S A NON-SUSTAINABLE CITY , as is obvious to the visitor at the very first encounter. But what is sustainable in today's world? Little, if anything. Besides, the attraction of dirty old towns to humans doesn't lie in their sustainability. And some cities still retain a certain charm, down by the river Sa-a-a-aile... So let's forget about that. A good strategy could be to expect nothing from Dublin City, or very little, and look for no more. One could for example choose Dublin's GREEN GRASS , as a sustainable minimum. Again, we shouldn't think of green grass as something particularly everlasting; Mesopotamia's soils became salinated, to the extent that no ordinary grass would grow there. Some similar disaster might strike the incorrigible Irish nation: a grass blight, escaping from one of its artificial and stressed golf-courses. So, what we come for, the wild geese and i, is the green grass of Dublin, here and now. Tomorrow it may be gone, and Dublin will be no longer worth a Mass.|
In 1901 the present Saint Laurence O'Toole G.A.A. club was formed from the
Gaelic League branch at Seville Place. An earlier Saint Laurence O'Toole G.A.A.
club had existed in the North Wall area from 1888 to 1896 but disappeared from
the scene because of a lack of properly organised juvenile competitions. The St.
Laurence O'Toole branch of the Gaelic League held their inaugural meeting in
February 1901 and Brother J. A. O'Mahoney, Superior of O'Connells schools was
elected its first president.(...) In 1910 a pipers band was founded in
connection with the O'Tooles G.A.A. club and the 1916 leader, Tom Clarke was
elected president and the playwright, Sean O'Casey was the first secretary. When
the Irish Republic was declared on Easter Monday, 1916, over seventy members of
the O'Tooles club answered the call and took their stand among the city
garrisons. Tom Clarke was executed after the Rising, as was Sean Mac Dermott, a
non playing member of the O'Tooles club. Others who took part included Liam
O'Briain, Professor of Romance Languages at U.C.G., Citizen Army Sergeant, Frank
Robbins, who later became President of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions and
Tom Ennis who was later a Free State Army General. A number of players from
O'Tooles were on the Dublin team in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday when the Black
and Tans attacked and Michael Hogan of Tipperary was killed.
Excerpt from An Cumann Uí Thuathail: Brief history.
To the note-book: When brent geese are flushed at Darndale Park, they often land firstly at O'Tooles, before continuing to Donahies Community School and after that e.g. to the Naomh Barróg G.A.A. pitch in Kilbarrack or Mount Olive Green in Raheny. After a few hours of grazing, and if they cannot access fresh water on the pitches (they even chew mud for the water content), they return to drink from the Santry outlet, next to the causeway at North Bull, or from the Nanekin outlet east of St Anne's Park. The geese have developed a very strict Dublin schedule in just a few years.
The route used by the Knots, Turnstones and Brant Geese migrating from Iceland
to N Canada/NW Greenland is now well documented(...) Orientation conditions are
extreme on this long-distance flight close to the geographic and magnetic north
poles. This allows us to reject a number of different possible mechanisms of
solar and magnetic orientation by the birds. The extensive knowledge available
in the field of animal orientation seems to offer no reasonable explanation of
how the birds manage to orient close to the 300° rhumbline
Alerstam et al. (1990), Orientation, Migration Routes and Flight Behaviour of Knots, Turnstones and Brant Geese Departing from Iceland in Spring. Arctic (43): 201-214.
# = loxodrome, crossing all meridian lines at a constant angle, here WNW to NW.
Sometimes, in August, i forget to water the tomatoes in my greenhouse for half a
day. In the evening the leaves hang vertically and the tops are drooping, the
plants are crying out:
I hasten to make amends, give them a little more than necessary, and the
atmosphere in the greenhouse is nice humid again - maybe a little chilly? The
next day the tomato blight strikes, and i know that the season is over, it's
only downhill for the tomatoes from there. I regulate my tomato harvest that
way, through sloppiness, but
does the dirty job.
Labyrinthula is a eukaryote, a unicellular organism with a nucleus. One species causes "rapid blight" (or "slime mould" or "wasting disease") in marine sea-grasses, another has gone terrestrial in recent decades, attacking the cool-season grasses of golf turf. More than 90 % of the eelgrass beds along the Atlantic coasts of the US and W Europe disappeared between 1931 and 1933, following an attack by Labyrinthula zosterae. Many eelgrass beds hadn't recovered fully after two, three decades, some haven't recovered yet. It is thought that Labyrinthula only affects already "stressed" eelgrass and that healthy tissue can tolerate its presence. Such stress can be caused by low insolation during the growth season, due to e.g. cloudy weather or increases in the turbidity of coastal waters (from wastewater, dredging) - or a combination of the two.
So, it's much about UNSUSTAINABLE PRACTICES : pushing organisms over the limit, ignoring basic demands, and it needn't be said that human use of nature is involved in most cases in today's world. Not exclusively, however; the natural processes themselves, even the purely physical processes of the planet (like shifts of circulation patterns in the oceans), sometimes put a random spoke in some organism's wheel, even upsetting or overturning whole biological systems. Threats and Human Impacts on Eelgrass .
"The basic textbooks of ecology were (...) first to introduce a separation (eine
Trennung) between human and animal perceptions of environments.
There is undoubtedly always a fundamental contradiction
(ein grundsätzlicher Gegensatz)
between what we humans perceive as surrounding the animals, and the specific
environments (Umwelten) built by themselves and filled with their own Merkdingen
(objects with certain properties that are recorded, observed)
, says Jacob von Uexküll, one of the pioneers of modern ecology, in his magnum
"A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men. A Picture Book of Invisible
. On one side this quotation bears witness of a radical dehumanisation of
nature, since the environments of humans and animals are not only separated, but
stand in opposition to each other. At the same time it introduces a category for
the human observation of animals, that can be availed only from the animal
itself, namely the specific demands of an organism on its Umwelt."
Cord Riechelmann in, "Zoological Gardens do harm to the species diversity" (in German; the article inspired by the humanised polar bear "Knut" of the Berlin Zoo for a time being incorporated into the global celebrity circuit, on a par with Bono, the Beckhams and Paris Hilton). Die Welt 14.1.2008.
So ist HARTMANN ein ausgezeichneter Zellforscher und Chemiker, aber mit der Biologie als der Lehre vom Leben haben seine Arbeiten nichts zu tun.
Jakob von Uexküll, in the foreword to the first edition of "Streifzüge durch die Umwelten von Tieren und Menschen" (1934), i leave it untranslated, enjoy it as a piece of German poetry.
The best time to set out on such an adventure is on a sunny day. The place, a flower-strewn meadow, humming with insects, fluttering with butterflies. Here we may glimpse the worlds of the lowly dwellers of the meadow. To do so, we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows. When we ourselves then step into one of these bubbles, the familiar meadow is transformed. Many of its colourful features disappear, others no longer belong together but appear in new relationships. A new world comes into being. Through the bubble we see the world of the burrowing worm, of the butterfly, or of the field mouse; the world as it appears to the animals themselves, not as it appears to us. This we may call the phenomenal world or the self-world of the animal.
We are easily deluded into assuming that the relationship between a foreign subject (sic; CP) and the objects in his world exists on the same spatial and temporal plane as our own relations with the objects in our human world. This fallacy is fed by a belief in the existence of a single world, into which all living creatures are pigeonholed. This gives rise to the widespread conviction that there is only one space and one time for all living things.
I was new to my environment, the geese were new to their environment, and we
were both looked upon with the reserve that the nation holds in readiness for
dubhghaill, travellers. (Setting their mongrels on us). Wasn't there an
intimation in this double alienation: we could join forces and learn from each
other while creating our Umwelts from what Dublin had to offer. I was
notoriously lost outside the city centre, always caught in a labyrinth that knew
no exit. Why is Dublin (not the centre) built like a Greek labyrinth, a sort of
antique folly? It's a piece of province, not metropol, capital; the province
Ireland holding the capital city Dublin in an iron grip. How do the geese cope
with it? (They fly, soar above it all). Oh, not an option for me. But look at
them, how they are guided by small hints, pointers in the wind and the contour
underneath; they never fly head first into a wall, like you do. (Walk along a
STREET, a ROAD, an AVENUE, a BOULEVARD, avoid CLOSES, GROVES, TERRACES,
CRESCENTS, DRIVES!) Do it their way: first expand your self-world, then choose
your clues from the gross environment! The semantic finesses of the human
self-world are there to aid you, words are signposts in themselves.
One possible explanation... ...was the landholding system, which carried more of the feudal paradigm into urban living than would have been the case in most continental towns at the time.
Anngret Simms in: J. Brady & A. Simms, Dublin through space & time, (Dublin 2001).
|I was standing at Ardscoil Ris in central Dublin, reading brent colour rings over the fence. A woman came up to me, said: One of the geese is limping. I have called the Bird Care on my mobile and told them to come and fetch it. I was puzzled for a few seconds, i knew of no "Bird Care" in Dublin, only some abyssmally petty-bourgeois "Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" - and they wouldn't care about some limping goose. After a moment i answered: I have seen her, she has been shot at and has pellet wounds to her right leg. But she flies well, nobody is going to take her away. And she has a mate and two young in the flock, you wouldn't want to separate her from her family, would you? The goose was at least fifty metres away, how had she spotted the limp? She frowned and went away, leaving me there, still puzzled: Had i got the whole message? What was she trying to tell me?|
Men were linked together by a variety of surety relationships by which they
guaranteed one another for the righting of wrongs, and for the enforcement of
justice and the decisions of the brehons. In short, the brehons themselves were
not involved in the enforcement of decisions, which rested again with private
individuals linked through sureties.
Murray N. Rothbard (ed.) in: For A New Liberty.
It will be clear that the maintenance of customary law was not due to the power of any central authority, but it in fact rested on its own venerability, ritual potency, and popular acceptability.
T. G. E, Powell, The Celts.
|Many environmental indicators have been
the tourism industry. However while purporting to represent the environment,
indicator research fails to evaluate the ecological impact of tourism. There are
well-founded reasons for this failure, including
the ambiguous character of science, which promises a regulatory regime for
managing the environmental impact of tourism that cannot be delivered.
To illustrate this dilemma, the difficulties involved in developing
bio-indicators for a coral reef are discussed. The inconclusiveness of current
knowledge is illustrated and attention drawn to the disturbing implication that
the present situation offers little protection when called upon in the
arbitration of land use decisions. (*
I raised some eye-brows at this; is it a case of conscious overstatement, or
just linguistic imprecision? I would expect: suggested for. CP)
Abstract of George Hughes (2002): Environmental Indicators.
A product from University of Edinburgh; i can almost see that Trump golf-course hovering in the background, a pioneering victory for crude and vacuous exploitation. Who in Ireland is likely to put "the ecological impact of golf" or "the ecological impact of dog-walking" on the agenda? No-one. And why? Here is a typical situation , from Northern Ireland which is actually weighed down under the dog yoke as much as The Republic. A rural, provincial, slightly backward society is setting the standards at all latitudes, from Wexford to Belfast. But those are our only ways of touching nature, with one finger-tip!!! Ohhh-kayyy, i take back, golf has to be endured, dogs have to be endured... Are there any other untouchable invariants in Hibernia? (Carbide cannons, what keeps us from famine!)
Whosoever shall come guided by the call and flight of birds of sure omen, that
man shall have advantage through my voice, and I will not deceive him. But whoso
shall trust to idly-chattering birds and shall seek to invoke my prophetic art
contrary to my will, and to understand more than the eternal gods, I declare
that he shall come on an idle journey.
Homeric hymn to Hermes, transl. Hugh G. Evelyn-White.
There is also good evidence that for many low vision readers (older or partially-sighted), light (white or yellow) letters on a dark (black) background are more readable than dark letters on a light background. (...)Two colours that contrast sharply to someone with normal vision may be far less distinguishable to someone with a visual disorder. It is difficult to achieve very high contrasts with colour combinations other than black and white.
E. Russell-Minda et al. in: Clear Print. CNIB Library, Canada, April 2006.
TK /the letters on the rings, right to left/ W(hite)B(lue) /the ring colours, right to left/ , 11/02/13, MALEMC /code for Malahide Castle/ . Not been seen since ringing at Castlemaine Harbour, Kerry, in March 2009. Intend to exclude - these birds are pretty site-faithful to there, in general.
Graham McElwaine, goose resightings coordinator of the Irish Brent Goose Research Group , 18 March 2013 .
I am quite used to being beaten and having things thrown at me. I have been so
much buffeted about in war and by sea that I am case-hardened, and this too may
go with the rest.
Homer, The Odyssey, Book XVII; transl. Samuel Butler.
She wrapped him in swadling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because for them there was no room in the inns.
Luke 2, my own translation into English from Gustav Vasas Bibel (Swedish; 1541). (I wouldn't trust this line in the hands of a Liberal or Victorian interpret).
If the guest only knew, how often he is loathed, no man would ever accept an invitation in this world.
Johann Nepomuk Nestroy, in Das Mädel aus der Vorstadt .
This is for people.
Employee at Naomh Barróg's GAA, when flushing the brent from the pitch. I took the implicit meaning as: This is for people and dogs only.
A third group of habitats which urgently need protecting from further disturbance and alienation is the small series of sand-dunes, isolated beaches and spits, lagoons and saltings, bird-cliffs and islets dotted here and there round our coasts. (Birds and Men, p. 224).Written more than 60 years ago; both England and Ireland have lost much biological diversity over that period, gained a few things, too. I like the fact that Nicholson has both the courage and the education to use the term "alienation" - a philosophical concept, translating the Hegel/Feuerbach/Marx/Engels tag Entfremdung and the Russian ostraneniya. (The next step involves Heidegger's invariant Unheimlichkeit - i prefer "homesickness" to "uncannyness" for its translation, un-homelike-ness would be best - and Sartre's more historical and developing concept of alienation; we must latch on to that). In our case the word pinpoints the degradation of coastal habitats; they are often just alienated, not obliterated, because they have some utility value that can be exploited, free of charge. / This whole arrangement is intriguing; the alienation takes place within myself, the one who "looks", but i attribute it to some "habitat" outside me. Sartre claims that values - both positive and negative - are automatically bred from our perception of the world: "(our actions make) values spring up like partridges". "Truth" about the world is established that way. Still, the particular, ecological identification - and the dumping of alienation on some aspect of environment - hadn't really dawned on him, it's a post-Sartrian phenomenon. In social alienation we ourselves are the main sufferers; in biological alienation we create an ally, a shady Doppelgänger and co-sufferer out there. / Let's continue this self-torment for a while.
The sad truth is that one can no longer be proud to call oneself a Dubliner. The
condition of the city is a cause for shame, a cause for outrage. There is
degradation almost everywhere.
Frank McDonald in The Irish Times, November 1979 (reference and exact date will follow, i will read McDonald's oeuvre first. Very difficult to get hold of. Was this FMD:s Sturm und Drang ; is he still active or has he been silenced? Oh, there he is: George Redmond among most corrupt officials in Irish history , Irish Times, 20.2.16. I humbly request some investigative journalism on the assassination of St Paul's Pitches... On 16 August 2018 he writes as a "former Environment Editor" of The Irish Times, so let's consider him an elder statesman of the environmental business).
Protection of the Irish landscape has been a low priority; there is still widespread insensitivity to landscape deterioration and spineless acquiescence in brutal acts of spoliation. Although public concern for the landscape is growing, it remains too diffuse to influence sufficiently the agencies and individuals responsible for change. Certain features of landscape change, such as the uncontrolled proliferation of dispersed bungalows , the destruction of bog environments which are rare elsewhere in Europe, and the general weakness of nature conservation policies, have been repeatedly condemned by conservationists within and outside Ireland. In the Republic there is no clear landscape policy; no central authority exists to develop integrated conservation policies for landscape, nature and historic heritage, and the planning system remains too weak to implement any.
F.H.A. Aalen in Atlas of the Irish rural landscape (1997) .
Thanks to Graham McElwaine for bringing this passage to my attention. The whole book is remarkably rich, a true cornucopia. For mainland European readers who want to read something about how havoc was wrought on Ireland from the late 90s, i recommend the chapter "Celtic Tiger housing" by Ruth McManus.
Dá mbeinn féin in Airdí Cuan
In aice an tsléibhe úd 'tá i bhfad uaim
B'annamh liom gan dul ar cuairt
Go Gleann na gCuach Dé Domhnaigh
The uniqueness, vastly surpassing mere necessity, in other words the symbolic
character of an animal
increases with increasing rank in the hierarchy.
Adolf Portmann, excerpt from lecture manuscript 1938/39. This is ambivalent, one exit transcendence, another the abyss, but given the context, we should give Portmann some leeway. What he is suggesting is that communicational form can be whittled, or honed. (Thanks to Mårten Björk, for bringing up Portmann when i needed a reminder). The bird above is surrounded by a "no-brent's-land" with radius 1 individual distance, where no goose intrudes. Is it unmated? Not necessarily; the watching eye to the right could belong to the male. Juno's sacred, vigilant geese, watching out for Gauls - and some birds watching more than others.