Friday, 22 September 2017

From India to the Fens: Poetry, Prose... and Cuckoos

Lantern Tower, Ely Cathedral, UK
The latest annual edition of Metverse Muse, edited by Dr. H. Tulsi, has just arrived from India. It contains a small selection of my poems, including one about a Cornish mining valley and one set in the very different landscape of the Fens. 

Ship of the Fens rising from the Isle of Ely

I am currently reading a splendid book about the Cuckoos who breed on Wicken Fen. Years ago we lived in a village poised between the edge of Cambridge (on the one hand) and the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens (on the other). Wicken Fen, in the care of the National Trust, was always a favourite haunt, and indeed remains one of our top destinations for a day out, despite the fact we have a bit further to travel these days.

Cuckoo by Nick Davies (Bloomsbury) bears the subtitle 'Cheating by Nature'. It is, in effect, a fascinating detective story, revealing how the Common Cuckoos at Wicken Fen 'cheat' on their Reed Warbler hosts, ensuring that the Cuckoo egg is given the best chance of survival. Nick Davies is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at Cambridge, and what I particularly appreciate about the book is the clarity with which Davies writes, enabling those of us without backgrounds in science to journey with him in his discoveries. His enthusiasm is infectious, and although I knew little about Cuckoos at the outset, my eyes are steadily being opened to their strange place in our ecosystem. This is an exquisite book of lucid and compelling prose. The field drawings by James McCallum are a delight. 

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