Enjoying a waif from the East

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with the long-staying male Black-throated Thrush at Whipsnade Zoo, in Bedfordshire (a long way from home for this Geordie). Enjoying a scarce bird is always a pleasure but, I confess, the experience of observing just such a lost waif in the company of free-ranging South American…

Dipping a Toe into the Natural History of Crete

A week ago, I begrudgingly returned home from a spur of the moment family holiday in Crete – a part of Europe I had yet to visit which, in retrospect, turned out to be rather beautiful. The week marked by blissful temperatures, great food, a lively local culture and numerous excursions on foot to investigate…

Nets Down for Nature: when people power works for wildlife

There is rarely any cause for hope in the environmental field. Indeed, everywhere we look, habitats are being erased, ecosystems dismantled and vulnerable species pushed ever closer to the brink of annihilation. It can be grim, at times, and outright depressing at others. Every once in a while, however, something bucks the trend – the…

7 of the Best Birding Tours with Local Wildlife Specialists

Doñana Delights Tour – Inglorious Bustards Boasting a truly remarkable mosaic of habitats, ranging from Stone Pine woodland and open grassland to sprawling marshlands, the Coto Doñana makes for some of the most diverse birdwatching in Europe. In the Coto del Rey area, visitors have the chance to encounter the mighty Spanish Imperial Eagle, as…

Where to Watch Wildlife in the North East: Gosforth Nature Reserve

Diligently managed by the Natural History Society of Northumbria since 1929, Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, located on the peripheries of Newcastle, is a true hidden gem. One of the North East’s oldest nature reserves, the site is unique as far as urban wilderness areas go: a designated Special Site of Scientific Importance (SSSI) boasting an…

A once in a lifetime encounter

Before yesterday commenced, I had only seen three Red-necked Grebes in my lifetime. Two as distant apparitions amid undulating heat haze on a vast swath of Estonian marshland, and the other, as an equally uninspiring spec on the horizon here in the UK. The latter being tossed astray by the tide around half a mile…

Top 10 Facts: Waxwing

Winter visitor. Waxwings are winter visitors to Britain, migrating here from their breeding grounds in the boreal forest belt that stretches from Scandinavia, through Russia and across parts of North America. The numbers that reach the UK depend on the availability of berries on the Continent. In years where berry-crops fail, birds are forced to…

Top Birdwatching Destinations in Europe

From the towering peaks of the Pyrenees and the frozen forests of Oulu, in Finland, to the snow-capped Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia, there is exceptional birdlife to enjoy at myriad sites in each and every corner of Europe. All of which are worth considering before you jet off to the opposite side of the world…

The benefits of ‘curtain twitching’

We all have days when everything feels like just a little bit too much: like myriad tasks are mounting up uncontrollably while motivation [and self-worth] are cascading downwards. Slumps and spells of low creativity as we bemoan mounting pressures but do little to combat them due to persistent, nagging and quite frankly, irritating, doubts. Yes,…

The Best UK Locations for Winter Bird Spotting

A useful guide for making the most of winter birding this year. Winter is a fantastic time for UK birders, as the most interesting species flock together in spectacular numbers. Migrant birds from as far as Russia have been known to make an appearance in parts of England and Wales, which is quite the treat…

Cuddy ducks, clowns and stench of guano

Britain’s seabird colonies represent a spectacle like no other: bustling, raucous municipalities where a multitude of species congregate to form a single, far larger, living being. An avian city, cramped and lively, which moves and reacts as one when presented with danger, or opportunity – similar in many ways to the concrete jungles so many…

Rose-coloured Starling

I’ve had very little time this week for my usual outdoor pursuits, largely owing to a growing workload and a multitude of mounting side projects. That said, yesterday I managed an all too brief outing in search of a bird I have wanted to see for many years: a Rose-coloured Starling. A rare vagrant to British…