Thanks to the BBC—and to Sir David Attenborough in particular—we British are more than familiar with the wonders of the natural world. Each year, from the comfort of our armchairs, we watch spellbound as polar bears pad across ice floes in the Arctic; lions take down wildebeest in the Serengeti; iguanas slip into the sea in the Galápagos; monkeys swing through trees in the Amazon; humpback whales breach the waves of the Pacific; and shoals of Crayola-coloured fish twist and turn in unison amongst the coral of the Great Barrier Reef.
Familiar though such footage now is, it still seems a world away from boring old Blighty. Although we live on what I would argue is the most beautiful island on the planet, our little lump of rock off the northern coast of Europe isn’t exactly famous for its wildlife spectaculars. Yes, we have plenty of wonderful wildlife, but it’s seldom showy. It’s hardly the sort of thing TV documentary makers would travel half-way around the world to film.
And yet, every spring, something happens in Britain that ranks alongside any wildlife spectacle you might see on telly. It’s an event we almost take for granted, yet, when you think about it, it’s utterly astonishing. For a few short weeks each May, our woods turn blue:
“…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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