Cuckoo calling and schadenfreude

We clocked several new plants on our pleasant amble through the marshland yesterday. All identified with the iPlant app, beginning with ‘fox and cubs’ and moving on to the pink flowered ‘Endres cranesbill,’ the ‘bush vetch’ and the ‘blister sedge,’ and finishing off with the ‘long-headed poppy.’ The plants were a delight enough for us, but two animals in particular made the walk a real joy.

Along the circuit, just before we turned right to near ‘horse-tail alley,’ the lonely call of a cuckoo entered our consciousness. I’d have mistaken it for yet another insufferable wood pigeon, but no, it was clearly a cuckoo calling, the two notes repeated, over and over. We smiled together and walked on.

Apparently schadenfreude isn’t really that nice, that sense of smirking satisfaction at someone else’s misfortune. I can think of only a very few figures, all political, whose demise I would cheerfully allow to elicit such a feeling. But I did smirk at the nettle wrapped up in the netting of a tent caterpillar’s offspring.

And how does that feel, you nasty stinging weed?

I wondered if there might not be some sort of biological control that could do for the endless banks of nettles that grow in the most insalubrious places. But I soon realised, as we walked further, that the tent caterpillar moth had polymorphic tastes: apparently any set of branches would do as a nursery for its larvae. Nevertheless, I was delighted that one set of caterpillars, at least, would be munching through the leaves of one nettle plant.

We arrived home quite worn out; it had been a longer walk than we’d thought it would be, at the outset. But we’re getting stronger, nevertheless. And still finding new things to exclaim over.

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