The kids are leaving home

House martin and chick

I am walking on a carpet of freshly-fallen brown leaves that crunch beneath my feet. Welcome to…      summer in Southwest England. As the Southwest of the UK starts to feel the bite of the drought already affecting the Southeast, the trees are responding. Unable to support the loss of moisture that comes from their single, long daily breath, they are discarding some of their leaves and retreating, reducing themselves in the hope of surviving until moisture returns. The

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In the land of dragons, a new contender

male lesser emperor dragonfly

I recently returned from Scotland, having fulfilled a five-year quest to photograph all of Britain’s native breeding butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Despite some truly atrocious weather I brought back the precious final pictures of the elusive northern species – the northern damselfly, the northern emerald dragonfly and the azure hawker dragonfly. I also brought back a bad case of Covid-19, which, being a generous type, I promptly gave to my wife. As you can imagine, nipping off for a private

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Is it time to permanently stop visits to the Farne islands?

arctic tern

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Scotland. On my way back down to Wiltshire, I decided to fulfil a longstanding ambition and visit the Farne islands. If you’re interested in wildlife, the Farnes have always beenone of those places that you need to visit at least once in your life. Nestling a few miles south of the holy island of Lindisfarne, and a couple of miles offshore from the Northumberland coast,  “island” is perhaps too grandiose a word for

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Methuselah flies again

Colin the cuckoo

It seems that Britain’s -and perhaps the world’s – oldest cuckoo is back. According to Wikipedia, the oldest recorded cuckoo for Britain is just under 7 years old. At this point, you should hear inside your head the kind of quiz show klaxon favoured by QI or Family Fortunes. Because Colin is back. Who? Colin. The cuckoo. Colin is perhaps Britain’s most famous cuckoo. Every summer for what is believed to be nine years, the bird has appeared at Thursley

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