My photo of the year, 2022

the nightingale in song

At the start of every year, I like to look back over my wildlife highlights of the year just gone. With the final release of Covid restrictions, it’s been a year in which I’ve achieved several personal wildlife goals. I’ve seen and photographed every British butterfly, damselfly, and dragonfly, as well as a third of the British list of birds.  I’ve taken 33,000 photographs, travelled uncounted miles, and seen 65 species that I’ve never seen before. So what should be

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Not just a silent spring, but a colourless summer

all the butterflies

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote her classic book ‘Silent Spring’. In it, she described the impact of the pesticide DDT, which was killing wildlife throughout the food chain, but especially silencing the birds whose song she heard every spring. The book caused enough shock that DDT was eventually banned almost everywhere. But Rachel lived in more innocent times. Since the 1960’s, things that were once unthinkable are now routine, and every time we think nothing could get worse, we are proven

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Finally, some good news

white admiral

Ravensroost wood, Wiltshire. For all the effort that I put into it, I can never get successional flowering to work in my garden. Yet here in the woodland, it happens automagically; not just seasonally, but from year to year as well. This time last year, it was the hemp agrimonies that dominated, their clusters of pink-purple flowers festooned with nectaring hoverflies and the occasional white-letter hairstreak butterfly dropping in from the wych elms behind. This year, the hemp agrimony is

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Hot sex in a Gloucestershire woodland

Pearl-bordered fritillary

The glade smells of baking ground and dried bracken, cut with the faint sweetness of end-of-year-sale bluebells. Their last few nodding heads are just visible between the unfurling green shepherd’s crooks of new ferns, and the squat purple flowers of bugle. Spindly birches cast ripples of dappled shade across the ground, but in this glade, surrounded on all sides by taller, more mature forest, the heat of this beautifully sunny day is trapped. It is uncomfortably warm.  As I stand

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I once was lost but now am found

Large tortoiseshell butterfly

If you’re trying to remember it, the headline is from the lyrics to the hymn “Amazing Grace”. As a hymn, it extolls the power of restoration. I have a growing discomfort with the nature conservation movement, who all too often equate “conservation” with “management”. Mankind has all but eradicated many species from this country, and it seems a little ironic that we always believe that  nature can only ever recover with our help, even though it was often our ignorance

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A short haul flight during lockdown that few people noticed

long tailed blues

I went to Brighton yesterday. Why not? It was a sunny if windy day, one of a run of days of nice summery weather that would have been really appreciated during summer but was rather more annoying now that the schools have gone back. But if you live in the UK, wonky weather is the deal you sign up to. But surprisingly for a 3-hour drive (lorry fire on the M25) to a seaside town, I wasn’t heading to the

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