I made my discovery when I checked a wildlife camera that I had positioned in a remote and little-visited part of the garden some weeks ago. 125 short video recordings had been triggered by night-time activity, none of it human: the hare was on several of them, but I saw also weasels, stoats, foxes, mice, squirrels and two cats that I had never seen before. There were lots of early birds and moths pursued by bats, and a mysterious creature playing around the camera that could have been a pine marten, all accompanied by the sounds of a woodland at night.
I felt like a voyeuse as I watched the private life of creatures that would never want to be seen by me: it was like reading someone’s diary without permission, and I mentally apologised and gave thanks simultaneously as I entered their secret world for a brief period of time.
It made me wonder, too, what other wildlife was in the rest of my garden while that small area was so busy? Wherever I have positioned it before, the camera has recorded something of interest, including badgers and polecats, and I believe that there is far more going on in the night hours outside than we know. It is a hidden world, and I know when I walk out late at night that activity has frozen and animals and birds are hiding as they feel me approach their territory. It is their time and their place to dance and play and hunt, not mine. So, I walk with care and great respect for the creatures of the moon.
Wherever you live, your nights are alive with life. Even a city has night birds and insects, foxes and hedgehogs; a window box or patch of weed has life in it all the time. Our ancestors were very aware of the great and constant variety of wildlife around the walls of their village or castle, some of it a source of food, some of it a cause of fear – particularly at night. Now, wildlife fears and tries to avoid us – particularly at night, and it is a rare human being who is accepted into the community of animals.
So, the nature day shift has a night shift too, perpetuating what has been occurring in its world for many thousands of years. You may wish to remember this from time to time, as you watch television or check your messages behind closed curtains: our way of life has changed greatly over millennia because of rapid technology “advances” and invention, every time separating us further from the planetary community as we focus more and more on ourselves.
Nature adapts to change but fundamentally remains the same. As we embrace change that makes our lives more comfortable or interesting, we forget what is truly important. Nature does not.
(Image by Toko Furusawa)