Nature Notes 2011

16 November 2011 It’s been a topsy-turvy year. We started with a bitterly cold spell, if you remember; then had a glorious April and an accelerated spring, followed by a dismal summer that was not so much a wash-out as a grey-out in which we scarcely saw the sun from May to September; and now […]

Nature Notes 2010

23 November 2010 This always seems the low point of the year. The days are short and often dull; the landscape looks sodden, flattened and somehow withdrawn in on itself. It’s also very silent out there and feels almost lifeless. Almost, but not quite. This is a good time of year in fact to pay […]

Nature Notes 2009

12 December 2009 By the time you read this we’ll be past the shortest day and no matter what wintry spells we might have in the New Year the daylight hours will begin to lengthen and there will be an unstoppable momentum towards spring. Most of us look out for little signs of this along […]

Nature Notes 2008

13 December 2008 On 23 March 2006 the House of Lords had an important debate. They had just two items on the agenda. The first was the Iraq War, which the noble lords discussed for exactly 9 minutes, as Hansard records. The second took rather longer: for 2 hours 31 minutes they debated the threat […]

Nature Notes 2007

14 December 2007 There are lots of fieldfare in the village at present. These are large thrushes, about the size of mistle thrushes, but with grey on the rump and nape. They are flighting in from Scandinavia and all parts north to spend the winter here and you can hear flocks in the air chattering […]

Nature Notes 2006

18 December 2006 We think of the calendar as being fixed and immutable, the diary of the year around which we make our plans and appointments. But of course it is in reality quite arbitrary. Think of the names of the months: anyone with a smattering of languages will know that September should be the […]

Nature Notes 2005

16 December 2005 The problem with New Year resolutions is that they are all broken by February, so it’s best to concentrate on things that are going to happen anyway. But the seasonal changes we can rely on don’t include the weather, unfortunately. The weathermen (rapidly being replaced, I notice, by more presentable weatherwomen) can’t […]

Nature Notes 2004

10 December 2004 I have received Christmas cards with thrushes, swans, pheasants, blue tits and even waxwings on them, but the bird that figures most is of course the robin. Why is that? Why is the robin such a British favourite, especially at Christmas? Well, first, we warm to his plump and jolly shape – […]

Nature Notes 2003

16 December 2003 The song thrush and mistle thrush must have noticed something – they’ve started singing again in the early mornings and evenings. The song thrush, which is the smaller bird and the one which cracks open snail shells in your garden, usually sings from a low tree or a roof and seems to […]

Nature Notes 2002

‘Let’s start with an earthquake and build up to a climax’, was a saying attributed to the late film mogul, Sam Goldwyn. And we do tend to expect the end of a cycle to be a high point, even if we don’t quite demand the level of excitement Goldwyn was trying to insist on. But […]