Animal Navigation

Animal Navigation

An interactive presentation to the Tamar, Devon,

Trencrom, Somerset and Thames Valley Dowsing Groups

by Richard Nissen



A talk by the irrepressible Richard Nissen is like feeling the fresh air of a fanlight in the nightmare of a lockdown cell. 

In all the years that I have known him, Richard has been asking much the same question, both of himself and of those who purport to know more.  Why can birds – creatures that have a cranium the size of a pea, and a body the weight of a tennis ball – navigate half way around the world with repetitive and well-documented success, but without the help of any mechanical aids or access to any apparent prior knowledge?   It just doesn’t make sense to any conventional way of thinking.

Richard uses the example of the cuckoo to emphasise the ludicrousness of his own question.  It is a bird that travels vast distances, even by human heavier-than-air standards, without the assistance of the flock, and with no apparent handed-down help from its long-departed parents.  Fledgling cuckoos are the equivalent of the orphan baby left on an urban doorstep, with no frame of reference and no guiding hand whatsoever.  Yet they survive in spades, and live to infiltrate another day.

The hypotheses of navigators and ornithologists alike throw little light on to this remarkable mystery.  Suggestions about the use of navigation by relying on magnetism, by using ground-based landmarks or even with respect to the stars in the heavens are demolished by Richard with the elegant grace of a bull in a chinashop.  It has become his stock in trade to find factual fault in the proposals of those who seek to rubbish his own ideas.  Flimsy and unsupported theories are swept aside by Richard’s well-rehearsed battery of questions.  It’s one predictably one-sided contest that is actually a joy to behold.

Even state-of-the-art diagrams of neurons firing in the human brain, which purport to show active memory location, are, as yet, little more than plots of areas of mental activity where the interface between the brain and the mind occurs.  They are effectively circuit diagrams of the processor in action, not physiological descriptions of archive retrieval.

However, as Sherlock Holmes might once have said ‘When you remove all the other potential explanations, the one that remains must be the truth’.  Well, it’s a good one liner.  The explanation that Richard is left holding is that the birds ‘just know’.  It doesn’t make for a long discussion, but it does cut to the quick.

To achieve the astonishing feats of annual long-distance survival, birds, and just about any migratory creature, must also have access to information outside of their tiny brains, and outside of their current experience.  Nissen is therefore drawn to the seemingly inevitable conclusion that they are, unwittingly or otherwise, accessing the information field of which they (and we) are all a part.

Richard may have come to this ground-breaking conclusion through his own professional experience of navigation, but he shares both the direction and the destination of his journey with the healer and leyhunter, the diviner and the medium.  For his theories to work at all, information must exist ‘everywhere’, and we are intuitively tapping into it, all the time.  The incomprehensible abilities of migratory animals and birds are just classic examples of informational experiences that are just too difficult to explain away in strictly traditional terms.

In common with the likes of dowser Robin Heath with respect to archaeology, and with numerous effective healers with respect to various branches of allopathic medicine, Richard rails at the stubborn resilience of his conventional contemporaries.  ‘What is it that they can’t see?’, he muses.  ‘How many coincidences does it take to make a fact?’ 

It seems that the unstoppable force of demonstrable experience comes up against the impenetrable wall of mathematical logic – but there is no collision.  Both worldviews see the same slice of the information field, but from different angles of approach. The big difference is that for migratory birds to survive, and for earth energies to be sensed, the information must be outwith (or at least within and without) the creature that does the sensing. 

The gap between the brick-by-brick approach of the experimental laboratory and the flight of intuitive philosophy of the dowsing-based researcher is that while the information field is available to all, it is all-but-impossible to prove. 

Yet, for the conventionally trained thinker to accept this scenario it may require the traumatic deconstruction of too much of their current worldview (and in the light of the events of 2020, you can get a glimpse of how much strain that would put on the cohesion of anyone’s mental processes).  Whether the twain may ever be able meet is still in the balance, but the future of human life on earth probably depends on it.

Richard facilitated another tentative, but practical, link in this chain of thought, by providing a self-selected group of flightless intuitives the opportunity to trace out the route of a chosen cuckoo flying from the UK to its overwintering grounds in Africa.  The lines drawn on maps by the lumbering bipeds were remarkably similar to those actually followed by the ringed avians. 

Sceptics will claim that any route would potentially be possible for at least one migratory cuckoo, but the small sample had map dowsed their route choices, and had been willing to submit them to an unknown online panel, before the actual paths taken by typical birds were revealed.  Indeed, had it not been for the picture of a cuckoo provided by Richard as a witness for the exercise, quite a few of the participants wouldn’t even have known what this secretive creature looks like. →

It was classic ‘interrogation of the information field’ stuff and it provided another potential prop for Richard’s theories.

Many thanks to Richard Nissen for giving us the insight and the benefit of his years of dedicated investigation into this subject.  It was apparent from the number and variety of questions at the end that he had triggered a lot of cranial activity in the assembled participants – not all of it associated with the immediate task in hand, but all of it relevant to the core proposal that cuckoos, terns, waterfowl – and, for that matter, wildebeest – have a lot more information to draw on than their miniscule brains can muster.

At a time of unrelenting media-fuelled fear, discussions like this one can give us a sharp kick in the shins.  Beyond our self-inflicted wounds in the here-and-now, dowsing and its related threads give us the strongest possible incentive to stand back a little and to see the reality around us from a wider perspective. 

Dowsing really has come of age, and hopefully all is not yet lost.


Nigel Twinn

Tamar Dowsers

January 2021