Sunday 17 May 2009

the short goodbye

The Independent's environment editor Mike McCarthy discusses bird migration with Radio 2's most famous ex-chorister Aled Jones.

McCarthy's new book Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo describes some of the impact that climate change is having.

For instance: oak leaves appear earlier, perhaps a month earlier than 50 years ago, and the insects that feed on oak leaves are hatching earlier. By the time migrant birds complete the 6,000 mile return journey, McCarthy says (38 mins in), the prey that they normally feed to their young has already been eaten by others.

In the interview McCarthy emphasises the cultural resonance of those bird populations that are in serious trouble: the cuckoo is one, the turtle dove another ('prominent in the Song of Solomon ... used to be common across England a generation ago, now hardly seen anywhere').

He also makes the point that climatologists have 'a completely different view of the future to the man or woman walking down the street today'.

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