The other day as I was setting off at the crack of dawn from the distinctly (sub)urban Blogger Towers I was confronted by a juvenile deer standing in the middle of the road. The poor thing was startled and turned to flee only to be confronted by a car approaching in the opposite direction. Another pirouette, performed quite gracefully in the circumstances, and the animal, by now highly agitated, bounded up another road in a direction which took it as far as possible away from what I would assume would be its natural habitat, the woods. For a nano second I wondered what would become of it until the normal considerations of getting to the station in time to get my coffee and train kicked in.
We had another unusual and unwelcome visitor this week, the cockchafer or may bug, which I had not seen for years. Whilst harmless (or so I ‘m told) to humans their very size and appearance makes them look alarming when they fly towards you and once established, can make a mess of your garden.
Man has always had an uneasy relationship with animals. For some reason they don’t seem to realise that man has a God given right to take over their natural habitat and that they should be grateful to eke out an existence in whatever bit of scrubby space we leave them. More and more often it seems, as with my encounter with the deer, they encroach into our space and require us to consider how best to interact with them.
If life wasn’t hard enough in Southern England we are being beset at the moment by swarms of honeybees. Oases of calm such as Chichester, Marlborough and Salisbury have seen an unusually high incidence of honeybee swarming with the creatures settling on cars, lamp posts, the baskets of bicycles and, showing the lack of taste which is guaranteed to lose them all vestiges of public sympathy, even on the windows of a Top Shop emporium.
I’m always fascinated by the well-meaning advice you can glean from survival manuals and the internet on what to do if you find yourself under attack from a rhinoceros, elephant, crocodile and the like. It may just be me but I find there is a limit to the amount of information you can carry around in your head and recall in an instant when standing in front of a charging elephant. The 21st century response to this dilemma is of course to google it but internet connectivity being patchy at the best of times you may not unearth the answer in time for it to be of any use to you.
Take bees, for example. Swarming bees coming towards you – and there can be up to 20,000 of the creatures in a swarm – can be somewhat alarming. But, if you believe the experts, there is no need to be alarmed if you see one coming in your direction. As the weather gets warmer, bees stir, and swarm because their hive has become overcrowded and a new queen has emerged. The swarming bees are looking for temporary lodgings whilst scout bees search for a more permanent abode. Before they set off the bees stuff themselves with honey and so are fairly docile. You can get very close to them – how close is not disclosed – without getting stung.
The feeling of reassurance I gleaned from reading this sage advice was somewhat punctured by the rider – if you do get stung, apply antihistamine cream.
Rather to paraphrase a Harry Enfield catchphrase (whatever happened to him?) it is time for animals, know your place!