#30DaysWild 6: Full moon

Yesterday, sex and poo, today death under the full moon! Day six of 30 Days Wild…

I always notice a full moon. It speaks to me, of womanhood and tides and many other things. Last night she rose late, just as I was going to bed. We played peekaboo as she looked down at me through the tree in my garden.

Many years ago, before there was a trend for it, I thought about having a tattoo. It would have been of a full moon rising above a tree. I made a rule that I’d think about it for five years and if I still liked the idea it would be the right thing to do. (It’s going to be on your skin forever, what’s a five year wait?) I still love the image but am glad I decided against the tattoo.

There is a time and place where a full moon spells danger and disappointment though. On Skomer island, off the West Wales coast, around a quarter of the world’s Manx shearwaters gather every spring to breed. These are true seabirds, with legs set far back on their bodies and not designed for life on land. But land they must at this time of year. They lay just one egg in an underground burrow. The female and male take it in turns to incubate while the other goes to sea to feed for days at a time. They only return under cover of darkness, listening out for their mate’s calls to guide them to the right burrow.

If they don’t land in quite the right place, they make for a pitiful sight as they shuffle along in the most cumbersome way with their seagoing legs.

Manx shearwater by Martin Reith

When the moon is full, unless there’s the blessing of cloud cover, the island – and the returning Manx shearwaters – are exposed and vulnerable in its light. The sensible ones stay at sea. If you’re a visitor to the island hoping to see them flocking back at nightfall, the full moon is the worst time to visit. At least you’re only disappointed. For birds caught out by the moonlight the result is often death.

What nature takes with one hand, she gives back with the other. Manxies fall prey to hungry gulls, but those hungry gulls get a meal they might otherwise not have had. Still, it’s the only time I feel less than thoroughly happy to see the full moon.

Pic credits: “june moon number one” by paul+photos=moody, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Manx-shearwater.jpg22-by-martin-reith-licensed-under-cc-by-sa-3.0.jpg.

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