Death in The Afternoon

avatarIn a welcome break from the foul weather we’ve endured for the last two months, today was bright, dry and calm – perfect weather for our hunt.

In a few hours, between us, we bagged about 140 birds of all species, including puffins, guillemots, razorbills and shags.

That’s a lot of deaths in one afternoon, but sadly there was nothing we could do help them. The storms and an oil spill off the French coast had done for them. Most weren’t oiled but had died from exhaustion, starvation or injuries sustained in the impossible seas we’ve witnessed since the new year.

Seas we’ve marveled at and even enjoyed – when you’re safe and well fed, and able to get warm and dry in minutes, a stormy sea is part of the entertainment.

For a creature that makes its living on the sea and doesn’t have the option of resting somewhere warm and dry, a stormy sea can be a death sentence.

Our job today was to scour one stretch of beach and collect any dead birds we found. In our patch we only found two – winds and tides had scoured the beach almost clean, and removed two or three feet of sand, so little was left behind. But others, working their own
stretches of sand and rocks, collected and bagged dozens of corpses.

The sight of them grew steadily more sad as they were laid out on a large tarpaulin in the car park. Some had been dead for days or even weeks, while others looked as though they could wake up at any moment.

I’d never seen a puffin before. Now I’ve seen plenty, but too late. Now I know the difference between a guillemot and a razorbill at a glance, and I can even tell a summer plumage from a winter one. A great
northern diver in is an impressive beast, even after death. Shags’ beaks only get their yellow colour when they become adults.

Disaster struck the bird population of the British Isles and this was just a small sample. But disasters can strike at any time, and that tells me two things:

1. Life is short so wasting any of it is a criminal offence (punishable by death, ultimately)

2. Resilience and adaptability are essential of you’re going to survive potential disasters to fight another day. The more adaptable you are the better are your chances of surviving profound changes in your environment

Oh, and by the way, the best person to look after you and yours is always you. You can start by equipping yourself with the resources you’ll need to fight your corner when you join my Inner Circle – but be warned, it’s not for everyone.

Roy