Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unintended consequences

The big shrine in Kamakura, Hachiman-gu, has two large ponds in front of it. The biggest has three large islands, which until recently had large trees growing on them which housed colonies of night herons and egrets (I'm no ornithologist, but they looked like these ones), and there are also white doves. In summer, the ponds are also full of lotus:

A year or so ago, the trees were heavily pruned, right back to ugly bare stumps. According to this newspaper comment, it was to discourage the birds which were considered to be making a mess. At the time I was disappointed that this attractive area would be so gratuitously uglified just in the name of "tidiness".

Walking past the pond at the weekend, we saw that the area has been taken over by flocks of seagulls and pigeons. As a consequence it's covered in bird shit, far worse than it ever was before. I can't quite say "told you so" but it can hardly be surprising that these natural scavengers have moved in to claim an open space. I only hope that the authorities learn from their mistake and allow the vegetation to re-establish itself rapidly, rather than taking the next logical step of filling up the pond with concrete.

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