This beautiful Island that we call home is blessed with a fertile natural environment, an ecosystem in microcosm that welcomed life long before mankind came down from the trees.
Our climate is mild, our predators few in number, and the complexity of our planning bylaws means that property developers are still a few years away from matching the Germans in their effects upon the open countryside. In our warm waters and fern-carpeted valleys wildlife may thrive, and few people realise that a great many of these species are unique to our tiny rock. The father of evolution himself, Charles Darwin, was inspired to begin his epochal work through observing the biological diversity of island habitats – admittedly a fact which will surprise anybody who has taken a good look at some inhabitants of the western parishes. Nonetheless, Darwin would have seen a great beauty in these monobrowed curiosities, many of whom he would have undoubtedly pickled and sold to the museums of London. We are lucky that our very home is a living museum, a world of wildlife wonder that is far more strange and beautiful than the boring mainland and its overrated genetic diversity. Join me, as I take you on a whispered naturist journey through some of the remarkable species that live here, breed here and get crushed under Jaguars during the school run here.
THE ICE-CREAM GULL
(Larus Morvus Calippo)
This impish, feathered bandit of the beach shares a heritage with the more common herring gull, but has largely replaced this species due to a localised adaptation to a diet of ice-cream, chips and premium beachside fry ups. Loud and aggressive, it is naturally drawn to make its nest in the rooftops of St Helier and will fiercely defend its territory against any interloper that threatens its access to second-hand pizza. A breeding pair produces up to six young each season, although many fall prey to accidents whilst foraging for their unique diet and end up battered or made into nuggets. Oh, the circle of life.
THE WAITROSE SQUIRREL
Supplanted in the mainland by its coarse transatlantic cousin, Sciurus Tesco, this subspecies of arboreal rodent thrives in Jersey, where its genteel sensibilities and appreciation for cheeses and fine wines fit a perfect evolutionary niche. Friendly and mild, its diet consists of organic nuts, gluten-free leaves and olives, although it will occasionally consent to eat a ready meal if it contains artisan chorizo or pomegranate seeds. It builds a nest out of promotional copies of The Guardian, and for some reason unknown to science is prevented from feeding on Sundays.
DOG OF THE WEST
(Canis Poopus Noscoopus)
Natural evolution has been given a helping hand in the case of this rare, seldom seen canine believed to roam the coastal beauty spots of the Island. Generations of fashionable designer dogs are thought to have inbred to the point that these animals have developed the ability to neurotically walk themselves whilst their owners are pulling 70 hour weeks in the finance industry. The lower intestine of the traditional domesticated hound has been shortened, and secretes a plastic like substance enabling the dog to bag its own waste. Sadly, this substance is completely non biodegradable, and dogs do not have thumbs, and so the goings of these mysterious creatures are marked by hanging bags of poop that still depend on humans to remove them to bins mere metres away. This is only speculation, as no regular dog walker will ever admit to catching one of these beasts in the act of hanging its plastic tribute on the nearest hedge.
FORT REGENT MAN
Evolutionary historians state that the early expansion of Homo Sapiens occurred at the expense of his lesser neanderthal cousin, with whom we share the overwhelming majority of our DNA. Isolated populations of this ill-fated hominid are thought to have last bred with humans some 300,000 years ago, which coincidentally is around the time that construction is believed to have begun on St Mary’s Parish Hall. Fossil records indicate that the remaining Neanderthals of the St Helier area may have been expelled to live a pitiful life in the network of caverns now located beneath Fort Regent, and some scientists believe they live there still, adapted to this subterranean existence. A specimen has yet to be captured alive, as their skills in fairground ride maintenance and rollerblading make them a fearsome and resourceful adversary. Thrillingly, shaky CCTV footage dating from the 1980s has been discovered in the High Dive Cafe Bar; it appears to record three individuals on a rare visit to the surface to honour their lion-headed god and stock up on Tip Tops. Perhaps they walk amongst us still.
DE CARTERET’S PROPERTY SPECULATOR BAT
This assertive and adaptable pest makes its home in disused barns, extensions and attic spaces around the Island. A ruthless maximiser of space, it will chew through beams, expose brickwork and laminate wooden flooring with a viscous secretion that emerges from its anal gland. It is highly aggressive and will attack both humans and animals with a deafening shriek if they attempt to interfere with its planning applications. If the infestation is left unchecked, the only option for the homeowner will be to convert the space occupied by speculator bats into an additional one-bed flat (no quallies needed) and rent it out for £1700 a month.
Nature is full of examples of apparently simple organisms who appear to pool their abilities in order to achieve remarkable results that bely the apparent simplicity of their individual brains. One thinks of the gigantic ant super-colonies of the Amazon jungle, the thermo-regulating complexity of an African termite mound, and the ability of Guernsey people to construct a functioning bowling alley. The basis on which this cooperation functions is a mystery to science, but a more puzzling example could be seen to occur in the blooming cloud of sea lettuce that steadily comes to occupy a larger percentage of Jersey’s coastal waters. Although the Island’s residents apparently agree that the lettuce is a threat and seek to destroy it, when it comes to forming a consistent solution our brains become unaccountably fogged over and we descend into making incoherent animal noises and fighting in the streets. Could millions of simple plants have somehow joined together and achieved consciousness? It is not for me to speculate, but I would say that it’s somewhat concerning that the leases for the new finance quarter developments were apparently signed with an illegible green smear, and that at least three Parishes report disqualifying election candidates who smelt strongly of egg-farts and left a trail of wet sand on their way into the hustings.