At this time of year, life and death are often very near at hand. While we see plants growing in fecund profusion and birds’ frenetic activity feeding hungry chicks from dawn until dusk, look around and I am sure you will see mortality too, like this shrew I came across on a footpath or a blackbird squished on the road, so intent on the biological imperative to deliver worms to clamorous offspring in the nest that any road-sense or caution evaporates.
In recent weeks I have seen a young rook, dead on the ground beneath a tall ash tree, presumably having fallen from the nest; and another not far away which had made it safely to the ground, hunched and vulnerable among the bluebells. Did it succumb to a local cat or hide long enough to fledge? These are daily and eternal struggles of this season of life and death.
With such profusion of helpless new life around them predators have a bonanza – cats, foxes, crows, badgers, even the loved and revered hedgehog is a killer, taking eggs of ground-nesting birds. This is all part of nature though and without mortality we have a surfeit of new life, new mouths to feed. Nature produces a surplus and one creature’s demise provides a life-sustaining meal for another.
Seeing signs of new life and procreation is easy in spring – it is everywhere you look in nature. But look more closely and see if you notice death too. What have you seen?