A history of declines. Once one of Britain’s commonest birds, sparrow numbers have crashed in recent years, with London alone losing three-quarters of its sparrows between 1994 and 2000. Declines in rural sparrow populations are thought to be a result of changing farming practices, particularly the loss of Winter stubble, though the exact reasons for [...]
Communal Roosts. A unique characteristic of the Long-eared Owl is its tendency to roost communally during Winter. Usually solitary, this species has been known to gather in groups of between 2 to 20 individuals, usually in thick cover, but in some locations have been observed gathering in incredibly large numbers. A prime example of one such prominent [...]
Late discovery. The Willow Tit and the much more abundant Marsh tit are incredibly difficult to tell apart, even by professional birders. They are so similar, in fact, that they were once mistakenly believed to be a single species. Indeed, the Willow Tit was the last regular British breeding bird to be identified - only [...]
Unwelcome guests. In Theatrum Botanicum, published in 1629 by John Parkinson, the author lists two recipes for Wild Arum (otherwise known as Lords and Ladies), suggesting that small pieces of the root can be mixed with lettuce and endive and that the dried root should be sprinkled, sparingly, over meat. He recommends these recipes for the unbidden [...]
One of the oldest wooden artefacts ever discovered by modern humans was made from Yew - a spearhead found in Essex dated at approximately 450,000 years of age. This particular spearhead was unearthed in 1911 at Clacton-on-sea and represents not only the oldest wooden find from the UK but one of the most significant worldwide.
American Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus. Around twice the length of our native Common Frog, American Bullfrogs are most often identified by their loud, deep calls. Deemed a risk to British wildlife due to their tendency to prey on everything from small mammals and ducklings to other amphibians, Bullfrogs may also spread Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis - a form of Chytrid [...]
High-flyer. The humble Mallard has been recorded flying at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour - slightly faster than the average speed of most waterfowl. While the Mallard does not typically fly at altitudes greater than 10,000 feet, in 1962 one was struck and killed by an airliner flying at 21,000 feet - [...]
I heard a Tawny Owl last night. A nocturnal foray to my local store interrupted by an eerie, frightfully abrupt, yet oddly soothing shriek from the branches of a Sycamore in the local churchyard. A sound which I hear often, both in the countryside and closer to home, amid the houses of Bedlington, that never [...]