In this week’s episode we start with a little look at how Lent was dumbed down over the years from extremely strict to almost non-existent.
However, the bulk of the episode is about natural history during Lent – there are lots of interesting animal behaviours around at this time of year, such as mad March hares doing their dashing about and boxing matches. Plants are starting to reappear too and seeing their blooms can really lift our spirits.
Neil has a conversation about plants with Brenda Smith of Bud Garden Centre, Burnage, Manchester. Brenda grows many of her own plants and has an allotment so she was the perfect person to tell us about what gardeners and growers can be doing. Neil asks if there is anything growing or can be grown this time of year for the dinner table, and we discuss the importance of avoiding peat when gardening at home. We also chat about wild plants that we see in the early spring and how they have adapted to thrive in a rather bleak time of year.
Neil then speaks to Matthew Cobb, Professor of Zoology at Manchester University, about animals and their behaviour in spring including mad March hares, aggression and territoriality in male animals, nesting building, how horrible mallards and robins are, sexual selection, horrible nature, stoat attacks and more.
One of the common threads in both chats is how climate change is affecting things for both plants and animals, which is a bit depressing, but we leave the episode on a fun cliff-hanger from Matthew. If you think you know what happened next, leave a comment below or tweet me at @neilbuttery or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Produced by Beena Khetani. Made in Manchester by Sonder Radio.
Bud’s website: https://www.budgarden.co.uk/
Guardian article about the importance of conserving peat bogs: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/28/ultimate-bogs-how-saving-peatlands-could-help-save-the-planet
More on bluebell hybridisation: https://www.wildsheffield.com/wildlife/wildlife-conservation/true-bluebells-2/bluebell-hybridisation/
Matthew’s brand new book ‘The Idea of the Mind’: https://profilebooks.com/the-idea-of-the-brain-hb.html
Matthew’s new OUP book about smell: https://global.oup.com/ukhe/product/smell-a-very-short-introduction-9780198825258?cc=gb&lang=en&
More on phenology and diaries: https://naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk/what-we-record-and-why/why-we-record/a-brief-history-of-phenology/
Boxing hares (and rock music, for some reason): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnF9SryDa6A
Stoat behaviour including pack attacks (I wasn’t making it up!): http://www.harpur.org/stoats.htm
The Fortean Times website: https://subscribe.forteantimes.com/