Iconic curlew evicted from our barren countryside

Having grown up on a council estate with tiny gardens and a father who thought birds were best eaten, it wasn’t until I had my own family that I started walking in the countryside and watching birds.

It was only recently though, having moved to Norfolk, that I had the pleasure of seeing a pair of curlews on the Sheringham National Trust estate. I wondered how I could have missed this enchanting bird in the past. Perhaps I just hadn’t been in the right place.

I wanted to find out more about curlews, so what better way than to read a nature memoir! Unlike me, nature writer and campaigner Mary Colwell is no stranger to the curlew call, nor why they may be hard to see. Continue reading

Can we justify culling some animals to save others? 

Bellbird on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand

Humans have a complex relationship with animals, ranking them in a hierarchy of utilisation and affection according to human cultures and values. While some animals are saved, others are slaughtered.

Depending on where you live in the world, elephants, rhinos and lions might be seen as endangered species to be protected or they might be used for pseudo-medicine, trinkets and trophies. Cats are beloved pets for some but for others, they are bird killers or meat. It can be difficult to balance cultural differences, species conservation status and ethics to find the best outcome.

But questionable cultural practices aside, even evidence-based conservation science faces an ethical dilemma.     Continue reading

Have you seen the latest Wildlife Blog Collection?

The Wildlife Blog Collection ebook front cover

 

Terra Incognita Travel’s first Wildlife Blogger of the Year competition was a resounding success with stories from nature writers around the world. I’m delighted to have my story included in their new wildlife blog eBook alongside other personal stories of wildlife encounters and conservation insights. The team at Terra Incognita describe below the idea behind the collection and what the judges—renowned conservationists, scientists, nature writers and filmmakers—said about the top stories. Continue reading

Remembering a blackbird fledgling

I lift the blinds on the back door and there he is. Every morning, the garden birds arrive for breakfast but while other birds wait in the pine trees or gather on the fence, this fledgling has been sitting between the flower pots. As I open the door, he hurries forward to be first in line for the soaked mealworms I sprinkle on the patio, then under the table where he will be safe. I have grown fond of this blackbird fledgling, although I know he is quite poorly. He can no longer fly like his sibling. Continue reading

Jewel in the crown: New Zealand’s yellow-eyed penguin

New Zealand yellow-eyed penguin feeding its chick

Huddled behind the hide at the far end of Sandfly Bay, we shelter from winds whipping sand across the dunes. The sun is yet to break as we wait for yellow-eyed penguins to make their way from the headland to the rocks below. It’s a perilous journey from forest nests to ocean feeding grounds, and I wonder why a penguin makes this long trek across farmland each day. Continue reading