Saturday June 27
There was a loud, sharp yell from above, but I didn’t mind. I’m incorrigible, you see. I just smiled benignly and the ring-necked parakeet hurried away; for parakeets always seem to be late for an urgent appointment. I was staying with old friends in Highbury, which is in That London, as you probably know. I was drinking in their garden and looking at the sky, the wildest habitat in any city.
If you read the current British Wildlife, you will see that I am a bad person for that benign smile. I wrote a piece saying that hatred and loathing of introduced species is unhelpful and unhealthy. To long for the extirpation of Spanish bluebells seems – well a bit UKIP. The only socially acceptable outlet for xenophobia in these hard times. It seems that some people in conservation think otherwise.
I’m not advocating free rein for the English mink, and I applaud the work that’s been done to eradicate rats from oceanic seabird colonies. But I’m not going to get all hard-line about the Chinese water deer that live all around me, nor the little owls that nest in the garden.
Besides, I don’t suppose it’s possible to kill off the British parakeets, any more than our grey squirrels. They’re here now. Might as well enjoy them; better than hating, after all. The only way to get rid of them was to keep them out in the first place. That was also the case with ash die-back.
I’ve got a field guide to non-native species and it reads like a book of hate. This is an issue better met with tolerance and understanding. Like most others. And if such an issue reveals me as a bad person, I’ll just have to live with it.