Almanac: May 2022

Nature notes, positive ecological news, tides and moon phases

The most exciting place to visit this month is your local woodlands. Bird migrants are back, insects are buzzing, and cascading rivers of flowers are flooding the woodland floor – bluebells, ramsons, wood anemones, primroses and red campions. I recommend visiting woodlands at dawn, before work, for an uplifting of the spirit. That day you will not be the one frowning at your desk. Or go at dusk, especially in south-east England, to catch the legendary nightingale. Fact: it has over a thousand different calls in its repertoire, arguably the greatest musician of the 5,000 species of songbirds in the world. Biologists tell you the complexity of his song is to attract a female and tell her how good of a father he could become. In Greek mythology the nightingale’s song is said to be in memory of Orpheus’ difficult journey to the underworld, and I’m told they sing brightest over his tomb at Lesbos come nightfall.

Treat yourself to strawberries, gooseberries and imported alphonso mangoes this month – earthly delights that will wane by the end of June, so seize the moment.

Positive Ecological News

Extinct woodpecker returns
After a three-year hunt, a team of Louisiana researchers found an extinct Ivory-Bill Woodpecker in the forest. Their leader, Steve Latta, conservation director of the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, said: “It flew up at an angle and I watched it for about six to eight seconds… I was visibly shaking afterwards.” Its distinct call in the woods is described as like hearing a child puff into a tin trumpet.

Nature wins in Panama
Panama has declared that nature has “the right to exist”. President Laurentino Cortizo signed a ruling that all laws and policies have to consider their impact on tropical forests, rivers and mangroves. It defines nature as “a unique, indivisible and self-regulating community of living beings, elements and ecosystems interrelated to each other that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.”

Red eyed frog, Panama

Billionaire steps up
Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder of software giant Atlassian and one of the richest Australians, took decisive action to help achieve his desire for a full global transition to renewable energy. On 19 February he made a bid to buy AGL, owner of three of Australia’s sixteen coal plants, expressly to shut them down and replace with renewable energy. His bid is ongoing. Perhaps more billionaires could join him? And why stop at Australia?

Down with plastics
In the most significant green deal since the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, UN member states have agreed to a pact that would finally put an end to the world’s plastic pollution nightmare – an environmental crisis witnessed from Mount Everest to the isolated peripheries of the Pacific Ocean. This legally binding treaty will be finalised by 2024. “We’re making history today and you should all be proud,” said Espen Barth Eide, President of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).

Sky Events

On 6 and 7 May, the annual Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower is passing our skies, capable of producing up to 30 meteors per hour. Best viewing would be from a dark location after midnight. Look to the constellation of Aquarius for the best chance to see the meteors. On 16 May, we will witness a total lunar eclipse in West Africa and Northern Europe. The moon will gradually get darker and then take on a reddish colour. The first crescent moon on 2 May marks the end of the Ramadan and the breaking of the fast. The full moon in May is called the Flowers Moon and in folklore it’s known as the best time of the year to get engaged.

Tides

Spring: 1st-7th and 12th to 22nd
Neap: 8th-11th and 23rd-25th

Andreas Kornevall is a Swedish storyteller, writer and ecologist. He is the Director of Operations for the Earth Restoration Service Charity based in the UK

Life

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