Battling the skies (geddit?)

The plaintive tale of Britain’s last remaining greater mouse-eared bat, as told by Patrick Barkham in The Guardian last year, is one that will tug on even the most resistant of heart strings. Every winter for the last 16 or so years, this solitary male has returned to the same dank railway tunnel in West…

Floats like a butterfly

I am a huge fan of the American novelist Barbara Kingsolver who effortlessly melds natural science and fiction in visionary novels like Unsheltered. In Flight Behaviour, the mysterious apparition of mass kaleidoscopes of orange monarch butterflies choosing to overwinter in the cool climes of the Appalachians instead of the warm south conjures up the omnipresent…

Ladybird, ladybird

Not having a garden, it had never occurred to me that you can buy live ladybirds and get them posted to you! Around £16 for 25 native British adult ladybirds with food included in case you’re interested. Ready for immediate release to the garden to ward off all those pesky aphids attacking your prize roses….

Nature’s medicine chest

“Try nettle tea,” said the functional medicine practitioner I’ve been seeing. Er, why on earth would I want to do that, I thought? But, when I investigated a bit further, it seems that early civilisations used it for all sorts of ailments from reducing swelling caused by arthritis to relieving muscle aches and aiding kidney…

Man versus bird

Despite often thought of as bringers of good fortune, it’s been an unlucky time of late for birds in this country. What with the furore first over licences to kill thousands of endangered birds and then over the netting of trees and hedgerows to prevent our feathered friends from nesting. Hard times if you’re a…

Soil’s super hero

I don’t know about you but worms are not generally something I tend to give a second thought. Until the other day when my brother pointed out a seagull doing what looked like a nifty tap dance but was actually the gull drumming the ground to fool unsuspecting worms below into thinking that it was…

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…