Wonderful! Our first cuckoo has started to call . . . Actually the iconic call is that of the male (the females have a totally different bubbling call that blends into the background cacophony of spring bird song). Cuckoos are shy creatures: grey birds about the size of a dove, with a hawk-like flight that […]
‘One swallow does not a summer make’ . . . But it is certainly a start and today (10 April) saw the first of these beautiful migrants swooping over the outskirts of Rhayader . . . Although the cuckoo’s call is synonymous with late April, for most people the swallow’s excited bubbling torrent is every […]
Fieldfares arrive in large flocks in early autumn and stay to spring, long after the last mushrooms have gone.
Ask most people about lampreys and the chances are you will be greeted with a blank stare. And even those that do know something about these strange fish are unlikely to know more than that they are supposed to lie behind one of Britain’s more bizarre royal fatalities. Let’s start with the facts. Lampreys are […]
Surely one of the greatest summer joys is to wake naturally as the skies begin to lighten? Lying silently, one listens as nature’s volume control slowly cranks up almost imperceptibly, as bird after bird launches into song, each the distinctive trill of a territorial male proclaiming ownership of a particular bush, shrub or tree. But while we may thrill to the sound, few of us can distinguish the individual species, not least because most are almost identical: small, thin-beaked and drab. These are the warblers, a large, but visually undistinguished group, but still genuine ‘diamonds in the rough’
Puffins are easily our most popular seabird: colourful, comic and confiding. Yet despite their popularity, remarkably little is known about much of their lives. For most of the year they vanish, living hundreds of miles from land, probably mostly in small groups scattered across the North Atlantic from Iceland to the Bay of Biscay . […]
The red kite is not only one of our most magnificent raptors, but it represents the ultimate in wildlife success stories. Reduced to barely a dozen individuals a century ago, it now numbers over 2,000 pairs and is regularly seen soaring over London . . . .
The pine marten is one of our most beautiful, yet least known predators. Almost no one has caught a glimpse of this lithe woodland hunter and most people would struggle to describe it . . . To start, even the name is misleading. Pine martens do indeed live in conifer plantations, but are no means […]
The curlew, our largest wader, is a familiar sight along winter coasts, but it seems its heart lies in the uplands . . . As soon as the risk of frost recedes, most leave the coast to breed among the heather and rough grazing of the mountains. Until 150 years ago the uplands were its […]
With its clown-like mixture of black, slate blue, brown and red plumage, the male redstart is one of our most striking summer visitors. For the next month or so his garish plumage will make him stand out from the foliage, but it is in flight that both he and his otherwise drabber partner are most recognisable thanks to their flashing brick-red tails . . .