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…

Leaf peeping this side of the pond

Broadcasting from New England last week, the BBC’s Autumnwatch team proudly declaimed it the best place in the world to witness the drama of the season. And the symphony of rich autumnal colours erupting among the region’s 6.5 billion trees certainly looked fabulously fiery on camera. But there are also glorious leaf peeping spots to…

The joy of conkers

Every October the school playground would become a combat zone, given over to the deadly serious pursuit of conkers. The sound of smashing filled the air, followed by a whoop of joy and a triumphant declaration: “this one’s a kinger,” “mine’s a sixer”, “Geoff’s got a niner”. Other than playing marbles in the drains there…

Natural healing

It was National GetOutside Day in the UK on Sunday but surely every day should be a #GetOutside day? One project’s findings earlier this year found that the positive mental health gains of spending time in the great outdoors can last for as long as seven hours afterwards. Another last month indicated that just ten…

All about apples

Knobby Russet. Duck’s Bill. Dr Hogg. Not a string of insults but rather three varieties of apple out of some 30 or so to be found in Sussex. The smallest variety, the Golden Pippin, is also the oldest and has been cultivated in the county since the 17th century. One of the largest, the ruddy…