120px-Mak120px-Kollebloemen_-_Red_poppiesYesterday I made a quick visit to the poppies filling the moat of the Tower of London.

Apparently yesterday the last of the 888,246 was added, to commemorate the lives of British and Colonial forces lost in the First World War.  It seemed appropriate to be there on 11 November.

About 200 years ago, a century before the First World War, Alexander Wilson, the Scottish naturalist living in north America, estimated that he had seen almost three thousand times as many Passenger Pigeons as that figure, over two billion, in an afternoon in Kentucky.  A century later there were none in the wild and only a few in captivity until the last, Martha, died on 1 September 1914 – at a time when almost no-one imagined the human carnage that would result from the war that had recently started in Europe.

As Plantlife points out, poppies are under threat too, these days.



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3 Replies to “Poppies”

  1. I am not quite sure of your maths here, Mark, if the Passenger pigeon figure is supposed to be almost three times the number of dead in WW1, but either way the numbers are stunning - whether we are talking about the war or the extinction of the pigeon. Following the war the sentiment that it should never happen again was widely expressed but we have done pretty poorly in that. 'Never again' is a hope that has also been dashed with respect to species extinctions and we need to do much better on both counts in future.

  2. I was thinking perhaps Cincinnati Zoo could have created a memorial along the same vien as the poppies, but in commemoration of the passenger pigeon. A field of blue ceramic feathers perhaps, but maybe one for every thousand birds which existed, to keep the numbers required realistic. I'd have bought one!

    Would be nice to think that such a display might have drawn people like the poppies at the Tower, but somehow I suspect not.


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