Nature Notes 2023

January 2023: Songs of love It was Chaucer who gave St Valentine’s Day its romantic associations. In his poem, The Parliament of Fowles, he imagines all the birds coming together on February the 14th to declare their passions and choose their mates.  Florists and card manufacturers have been grateful ever since.  But hang on, why […]

Nature Notes 2022

February 2022: Daffodil time   Florists make great play with the old tradition of ‘birthday flowers’ so that they have something new to promote each month, but some of their monthly choices seem at odds with the actual emergence of wild flowers through the seasons.  Carnations in January, for example?  I look out for aconites […]

Nature Notes 2021

January 2021: Speedy whistlers Our arable fields can look very bare in winter, almost devoid of life. But look more closely, and listen. We have visitors from the north, flocks of them, sometimes noisy. Golden plovers, who arrived here in the autumn from the northern uplands where they breed. In summer plumage these are gorgeous […]

Nature Notes 2020

January 2020: The revenge of the persecuted I saw something by a Suffolk road the other day that would have been inconceivable only 20 years ago.  There were three scavengers contesting a road-kill.  The first was a buzzard, once common throughout Britain, but after relentless persecution by gamekeepers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries its range […]

Nature Notes 2019

November 2019: Christmas Conundrums Birdwatching can spoil you for other simple pleasures.  When I’m watching a film on TV I can’t help noticing that the bird songs they put on the film tracks are often wildly inappropriate.  From my armchair I have heard tawny owls hooting in Ireland (there aren’t any there), swifts screaming in February (June […]

Nature Notes 2018

November 2018 As the winter solstice approaches, we are spending more of our time each day in the dark, much of it unconscious and asleep.  But that’s just when many animals are awake and most active, as revealed in an excellent exhibition I went to recently at the London Natural History Museum, Life after Dark (which runs until […]

Nature Notes 2017

November 2017 We’re seeing red kites more often in our area. They are sometimes confused with buzzards, which made their own come-back into East Anglia some years ago and are now a common sight over the village and the woodland copses, but the two species look very different in the air.  Buzzards have a very […]

Nature Notes 2016

November 2016: What’s in a name? I was enjoying some late autumn sun last week on the Suffolk coast near Dunwich, that once proud town which in Anglo-Saxon times was the capital of the Kingdom of the East Angles and in the medieval period had a port to rival that of London. It also had […]

Nature Notes 2015

November 2015 I’m writing this in the middle of November, having just got in from a ramble. It’s been a dull, misty day and it was already dusk by 4pm. I was reminded of that gloomy poem by Thomas Hood, which I’ve quoted before: No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, No comfortable feel in […]

Nature Notes 2014

This is a quiet time of year in the woods. You can sometimes ramble through the rides for quite a while before seeing or hearing a single bird. But sooner or later you are likely to hear a harsh cry, rather like the tearing of an old piece of linen; watch closely and you may […]