Rich Burkmar

An economically curious ecologist

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  • The New Enclosure – The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain 

    Chistophers, B. The New Enclosure: The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain. (Verso Books, 2019). The word enclosure in the title of this book drew me in as soon as I laid eyes on it. Back in 1981 when I was a fresh-faced zoology undergraduate, I bought the recently published book The Theft of…

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    The New Enclosure – The Appropriation of Public Land in Neoliberal Britain 
  • Paean for the Meadow Pipit

    About the moor from tussock, post and wallpipes up the onomatopoeic pipit,cheering mass trespassers, walkers and all.Its modest song condensed from sunshine spillsover spiraling glide to gladden hearts belowas though the people’s parachuting poet! No flash aristos garb, no painted feathers;it wears the tawny duds of a key worker.Prey to dashing Merlin and Hen Harrier.Predator…

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  • What wasps are for

    It stung me, the first time I heard it:What are wasps for?Because piercing the mock humourwas an earnest question,setting us worlds apart. They are not for fear. They are for beauty – look closely.Around dazzling tyger stripes, yellow and black,smoulder embers brown and redand the crisp symmetry of the faceframes eyes faceted like diamonds. They…

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    What wasps are for
  • A Tale of Two Willow Wrens

    Like Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities, this story is also one of contrasts; between birds, places and ways of studying natural history. It was another English literary giant, the 18th century natural historian Gilbert White – and grandfather of biological recording – who first distinguished, on the basis of their songs, not two…

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    A Tale of Two Willow Wrens
  • Sandhill Rustic Dreaming

    A singing Robin once stirred me from a garden reverie on a gentle September afternoon. Its song, imbued with autumn melancholy, seemed to express both mortality and living beauty. I looked up at the singer, back-lit by late afternoon sunshine filtering through the elder where it perched. A light rain fell, bending, scattering and amplifying…

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    Sandhill Rustic Dreaming
  • The Sound of the Earth turning

    Laying awake at 3.30, I heard a distant cockerel crowing somewhere in the village and, unexpectedly, a few croaky stanzas from a nearby Woodpigeon giving me the impression that it was just back from a night out on the tiles. Then silence again. At 4.00 – I’m not sure if I was still awake or…

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    The Sound of the Earth turning
  • Message in a bottle

    This morning I started reading Wild Life in a Southern County by the 19th century author and naturalist Richard Jefferies. But so far I haven’t got very far into Jefferies’ book; my progress was slowed by what I can only describe as an arresting introduction by Richard Mabey. An introduction by Richard Mabey to any…

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    Message in a bottle