Nature Cure

I’ve just finished reading Nature Cure by Richard Mabey. It’s a mixture of autobiography and nature writing, covering his recovery from depression and his reengagement with the natural world.

It’s beautifully written, and a real pleasure to read.

(My copy will be back in Lancaster library next week, but click on the picture if you want to see it at Amazon)

In one passage in the book he describes the work of a biologist, Bernd Heinrich who observed ravens by dragging carcasses into the hills and then sleeping beside them.

He was surprised to discover that the ravens were using a ‘yelling’ call to summon more of their own kind to share in the bounty.

After many years of study, hypothesising and contemplation he finally concluded that:

The yelling, feeding mobs are juveniles, doing what all young creatures do when they have time on their hands: forming gangs, looking for pick-ups, showing off, making friends, seeking status, having fun.

Mabey is interested too in the daredevil antics of swifts. Later, he describes a dance performed by cranes. Perhaps, he suggests, not all animal activity fits neatly into a Darwinian model of the struggle to survive and reproduce.

I mention this because the behaviour of the great tits that we saw seems in retrospect more like boisterous rough and tumble than the wary and ruthless acts of genuine combatants.

Nature Cure

2 thoughts on “Nature Cure

  1. beatingthebounds says:

    I have very battered copies of ‘The Unofficial Countryside’ and ‘In A Green Shade’ that I come back to again and again. His prose is a joy to read. I also regularly refer to ‘Flora Britannica’, ‘Birds Britannica’ and ‘Food for Free’ (which was the first of his books that I bought.) But for some reason I haven’t made much of an effort to seek out his other books….I’m not sure why. I would like to read his book on nightingales.

    Any other recommendations?

    I’m presently reading ‘Crow Country’ by Mark Cocker which I’m also really enjoying. Curiously his account of the conclusions of the book ‘Ravens In Winter’ is quite different from Mabey’s. (I might post about this when I finish the book.)

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