18 February 2021, The Tablet

Glimpses of Eden

Glimpses of Eden

The snow fell all morning, but it didn’t stop the woodpecker. I heard it drumming long before I reached the woods – that pounding, melodic tattoo produced by the great spotted woodpecker as it hammers its beak against a hollow tree. We’ve grown used to David Attenborough escorting us to the far corners of the earth to see the dramatic wonders of nature, yet is there anything on the whole planet as sensational as the drumming of a woodpecker? What can compare to that beak, a mere peg of bone and keratin, hammering a piece of wood so skilfully that the sound can be heard a kilometre away?

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