Survival rather than mating is currently the name of the game for most birds, but Britain’s commonest owl has other things on its mind. Our woods, field and gardens are beginning to echo with the familiar calls of ‘Too-whit, too-whoo’.
The jay is one of our most striking birds. Resplendent in its gaudy pink, blue, black and white plumage, you would think it would be obvious, but a fleeting glimpse is as much as we can normally expect. Generally its presence is only betrayed by a distinctive cackle from the dense foliage of the tree tops.
These are our largest wasps. Until recently the indigenous variety, the European hornet (Vespa crabro), was comparatively rare in Britain and confined almost exclusively to the South East. But over the last two or three decades it has spread north and west into the Midlands and South Wales, probably due to global warming. This summer, […]
Originally introduced to Britain from South East China in the 11th century, this striking game bird is now the backbone of a huge rural industry . . . With spring upon us, shooting may be over, but the hard work for the coming season has barely begun. Across the country tens of thousands of penned […]
Mid-Wales is a haven for all sorts of wildlife and even though the brightly-coloured bullfinch is in decline across most of Britain, I have several pairs in my garden . . . The recent slump in numbers nationally is unfortunate for the population had climbed steadily for much of the 20th century owing to the […]
Fungi fanatics hate the phrase ‘toadstool’ because it is both laden with prejudice and deeply-misleading – when did you last see a toad on a mushroom? Poor amphibians! A burst of bright sunshine a month ago filled my pond with frogs and toads and they merrily filled it with spawn, but the current Arctic conditions […]
Although this mid-sized weasel gets its name from the French poule chat (‘chicken cat’), actually it is a very useful unpaid pest controller. One recent study found small mammals made up 85% of their stomach contents – and indeed they can be positively beneficial around farms, particularly when they move into outbuildings to feast on […]
The robin is one of our favourite garden birds – and never more so than in hard weather. Naturally tame, these colourful songbirds willingly visit feeding stations and it’s not difficult to tempt them to take choice morsels from an outstretched palm . . . The cheery image of a beady-eyed, friendly robin, its bright […]
Nuthatches are increasingly common in orchards, relying on fungi-created cavities in trees. Charmingly, they plaster mud around the entrance to restrict the opening to the minimum diameter the can squeeze through . . .
“The sea from close inshore was boiling with surfacing and leaping porpoises, an astounding spectacle. The density of the school was such that there may well have been more than a thousand; at least there were several hundreds.” When amateur naturalist, Tommy Warren Davis, watched porpoises hunting herring in Milford Bay in 1928, he can […]