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…

Excitement in the wildlife garden

Wildlife gardening has become somewhat of an obsession of late as we attempt to make our urban ‘yarden’ as appealing as possible to all forms of life, from flies to visiting birds. Hand in hand with this, we have increased the time spent monitoring our little plot, with positive results. Already this year, we have…

More tales from the urban jungle

In line with the government guidance, this week, time in nature has been squeezed and condensed. A  few short forays to my local park and innumerable laps of our eerily quiet street the best I could muster while sticking to the law. Outside, the seasons advance regardless of the turmoil unfolding in human society and…

Tales from the urban jungle

It certainly feels like Spring has sprung in my little corner of Newcastle: garish daffodils of all shapes and sizes adorn the roadsides, House Sparrows emerge from beneath the slates of terraced homes and cool yet brighter mornings are marked by the fluted notes of Song Thrush and the caterwauling of returning Lesser Black-backed Gulls….

Laying the Foundations of a Wildlife Garden

Our garden (if we can call it that) was a barren old thing. Little more than a few square meters of concrete fenced off and overlooked on all sides by housing. Not exactly what you would call wildlife haven; though things did improve somewhat when we set about making a few small changes last 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…

Winter Walks in the Vineyard, by Frances Jones

The bright sunshine urged me out of doors this Sunday morning, and I pulled on boots and a raincoat in readiness for a walk. Long-standing readers of this blog may recall I previously wrote about experiencing nature in the city. Living in the midst of a built-up area, surrounded by blocks of flats and busy…

Winter wildlife doesn’t come much better than this

It’s shaping up to be a good year for Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus). Sure, the much anticipated ‘waxwing winter’ – an irregular spectacle marked by the mass arrival of these colourful birds to our shores – never quite came fruition, but there are still a good number around. Hundreds, as opposed to thousands, yet more…

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…

Common By Nature commended at the UK Blog Awards!

Common By Nature, the blog you are perusing at this very moment in time, has taken the ‘Highly Commended’ position in nature and wildlife category of tonights UK Blog Awards, and it looks like I owe readers of this blog a whopping great thank you! Truth be told, I haven’t published much in the way…

An hour in the company of aliens

Britain’s cities have served as the epicentre for countless invasions over the years. Landing sites, if you would, where species from far-flung destinations – East Asia, North America and closer to home, in Europe – gain first a toe-hold before beginning their creeping advance across the land. Here, in the city, the wheels of countless…