Poems that the earth writes upon the sky

When it comes to trees, passions can run high. Just think of the outcry last year when Sheffield residents realised that the city council had chopped down more than 5000 street trees in the previous five years, with another 12,000 set to go over the next 20 years. Many were perfectly healthy with decades still…

Hare today, gone tomorrow?

The number of brown hares in the UK is thought to have dropped by as much as 80% over the past hundred years, meaning that there are now less than a million of one of our best loved mammals. Which makes reports that both myxomatosis and the deadly rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) may have crossed…

Has spring sprung already?

I saw the first of this year’s daffodils, often a herald of spring, a little over two weeks ago. Er in January? On last week’s Winterwatch a cameraman had captured a woodpecker drumming in the Cairngorms – behaviour more usually associated with the vernal season when the woodpecker is looking for territory (or a mate!)….

The Lost Species

Wouldn’t it be a glorious sight to watch white-tailed sea eagles diving for fish in the waters around the Solent? The UK’s largest bird of prey, fondly known as a “flying barn door” for its eight foot wingspan, was wiped out in England a century ago but now there are plans afoot to explore the…

Winter cravings

As the winter solstice beckons and the daylight hours dwindle, I start to find myself side-tracked from all thoughts of Christmas prep, ambushed by a recurring reverie of sticky ginger parkin. Six weeks too late I hear you remonstrate, Bonfire Night should have been parkin night… But it’s on the first day of winter proper…

Under the leaf litter

Could there be a more glorious name for a fungus than Scurfy Deceiver? The Powdery Piggyback comes a close second maybe, but how can you not have a soft spot for a mushroom that sounds like a ribald Elizabethan insult! The world of mycology teems with the most evocative of monikers. From the fluorescent Lemon…

Not just for Halloween…

Ready for a riddle? What fruit was once thought to be both a great freckle remover and a cure for snake bite? May have helped ward off scurvy among early American settlers and is packed with nutrients that support heart health? What a shame that, in the UK at least, we only really pay tribute…