British Wildlife

British Wildlife of the Week: Adder

Last week, I heard that someone had been bitten by an adder while examining some movement in the undergrowth around the Clennon Valley Lakes in Paignton – the site of The Nature Nook’s latest wildlife walk, which you can read about here. The person in question, thankfully, was fine (after a night in hospital on anti-venom), but it inspired me to write a post about my favourite British snake.

In Search Of… Dabbling Ducks

The Nature Nook’s latest wildlife-spotting walk took Alex and I to the Clennon Valley Lakes, just south of Paignton Zoo, in search of ducks. Not mallards or tufted ducks, mind you – we’d already seen those. No, we were looking for a couple of slightly more uncommon species. We had received a tip-off that two dabbling ducks – the gadwall and the pintail – had been recently spotted at the lakes and we thought it would be relatively easy to add them to our list of birds.

British Wildlife of the Week: Soay Sheep

St Kilda. A remote, windswept archipelago in the storm-tossed seas 160 kilometres west of mainland Scotland. This scattering of rugged islands is famed for its birdlife. Nesting on and around its sea cliffs – the tallest in Britain, up to 426 m – are a huge variety of seabirds, including fulmars, gannets, puffins, guillemots, storm petrels, razorbills, shearwaters and skuas.

In Search of… Cirl Buntings

The cirl bunting is a bird that I’ve never really given much thought to. For most of my life, this was quite understandable because I grew up in the northwest of England, where there aren’t any cirl buntings. I learned from my bird guide that it was a scarce and very localised breeding bird, found only in coastal regions of South Devon, so I never went out birdwatching hoping to see one.

British Wildlife of the Week: Cuckoo

The tale of the cuckoo is a well-known one, liberally sprinkled with deception, suspense – and murder. Famously, the female lays her eggs in the nests of other birds and relies on unwitting foster parents to raise her offspring. It might be tempting, therefore, to view the cuckoo as the ‘bad guy’ – a rogue and a fraudster unfairly taking advantage of an innocent family – but we must avoid making moral judgement through the human lens of what we consider right and wrong. Far from being lazy, selfish birds that shirk all parental responsibilities, cuckoos deserve respect for their ingenious methods.

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