Wildlife at Walker Riverside

Of all of the places I regularly visit in Newcastle, Walker riverside has to be my favourite. Owing to a mix of abdanonment and neglect, it just about the most diverse local site I know of for plants and insects

Bees and botany at Newbiggin

A short while ago, a sunny Saturday afternoon provided the perfect opportunity for a June venture to the Northumberland coast. Deciding against sites we visit frequently, it was decided that we would head to Newbiggin for a closer look at the plants and insects that abound along a stretch of coastline we seldom visit. Departing…

Wildlife on the River Coquet: Rothbury to Thropton

With the sun shining and temperatures topping twenty degrees, last weekend we opted for a visit to somewhere a little different. Arriving at Rothbury just shy of 10.00 am, and setting off on would turn out to be a delightful six mile walk West along the River Coquet, it was the botanical diversity of the…

Exploring the Fascinating Flora of Lindisfarne

I have visited the Holy Island of Lindisfarne many times to admire the sites birdlife, chase rarities and even seek out insects, but never to appreciate it’s diverse and interesting flora. Lindisfarne is well known as an excellent site for those interested in botany, it’s unspoilt beaches, sprawling dune slacks, fields and expansive areas of…

Wonderful Wildflowers at Bishop Middleham Quarry

A Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Durham Wildlife Trust nature reserve encompassing a disused magnesian limestone quarry, I have read about Bishop Middleham Quarry for years. People, it seems, visit the site from far and wide to experience the fantastic flora on offer here. As well as for an abundance of colourful insects….

Chasing Urban Orchids

Few wildflowers capture the imagination quite like our orchids. They’re beautiful, of course, but also sufficiently scarce to provide a little jolt of excitement whenever you happen across one. They are also the only group of plants – to the best of my knowledge – that manages to unite all natural history enthusiasts, whether they…

Into the Wild Woods at Allen Banks

Spurred on by the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions in England, this weekend past saw us venture forty-five minutes inland to the wild reaches of Allen Banks. An ancient woodland site situated on the banks of the River Allen and maintained by the National Trust. Now, I visit Allen Banks at least once every year…

A Tale of Two Plant Hunts

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s (BSBI) New Year Plant Hunt is an annual event in which botanists, expert and amateur alike, head out to record the plant species bucking the time-honoured trend and blooming in the depths of winter. Now in its ninth year, the four-day survey is both great fun and an…

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…

On the hunt for orchids

Orchids capture the popular imagination to a far greater extent than any other group of plants. Indeed, birders, entomologists, mammal-watchers – those who would never, under normal circumstances, label themselves a botanist – often find themselves weak and the knees and enraptured by their blooms. Perhaps this is due to visual appeal – orchids are…

The beauty of Bee Orchids

For me, the Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) has always been somewhat of an enigma: a species I frequently encounter on TV, social media and the blogs of other naturalists yet never in the flesh. This petite yet flamboyant bloom, famed for its status as one of nature’s great mimics, eluding me at every turn. The…