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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine January 2018

BBC Wildlife Magazine is a celebration of the natural world, featuring all the latest discoveries, news and views on wildlife, conservation and environmental issues. With strong broadcasting links, authoritative journalism and award-winning photography, BBC Wildlife Magazine is essential reading for anyone with a passion for wildlife who wants to understand, experience and enjoy nature more.

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
13 Issues

in this issue

2 min.

“HARPY EAGLES MAINLY HUNT BY MAKING SHORT FLIGHTS FROM ONE TREE TO ANOTHER.” We’re hoping 2018 is going to be a great wildlife-watching year, and to help make it so we’ve recruited The One Show favourite, Mike Dilger, to share his insight into the best approaches in a range of different scenarios. The series kicks off with a visit to an estuary (p14), a great place to enjoy masses of wading birds probing the mud on a crisp winter’s day. I recently made a trip to RSPB Snettisham in north Norfolk, very early on a morning when the tide was due to be a high one. The pre-dawn start from our friend’s house was rewarded by the sight of thousands of knot, and an almost equal number of oystercatchers, huddling together…

1 min.

MIKE DILGER The One Show presenter and naturalist Mike is writing a new wildlife watching series, starting with estuaries. He says,“Our mud is world class, providing vital refuelling stations for birds throughout winter.” See p14 BO BEOLENS Bo is passionate about access to wildlife for all. “Disabled people find amazing ways of getting around the obstacles they confront,” he says.“It’s high time more thought went into helping them.” See p30 LIZ KALAUGHER Science writer and Furry Logic co-author Liz joins our Q&A expert panel.“I’m excited to be bringing you fascinating facts about wildlife each month,” she says.“If it makes me go ‘wow’, I’ll write about it.” See p100…

1 min.
size matters

“AT UP TO 16 HOURS LONG, JANUARY NIGHTS ARE AN ENDURANCE TEST FOR THE PLUCKY, PINT-SIZED WREN.” When temperatures drop, every long midwinter night poses a serious challenge for a small bird. The smaller you are, the faster you lose body heat, the narrower the margin between survival and succumbing to the cold. So the stakes are high for the tiny wren, which weighs around 9–10g – fractionally more than a new pound coin. Even if it fluffs out its plumage and joins one of the communal winter roosts for which this species is known, the mouse-like bird will by dawn have lost nearly all of the weight it put on during the previous day’s foraging. Fascinating research published in 2016 by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and University of East…

3 min.
uk highlights

BULLFINCH FAITHFUL MATES Research by ornithologist Tim Birkhead has shown that this portly finch is remarkably monogamous, perhaps more so than any other British songbird. It’s unusual to encounter a lone bird – a pair is far more likely, in the depths of winter as well as during the breeding season. The male and female constantly whistle to each other to stay in touch in thick hedgerows or scrubby woodland – a soft ‘pew, pew’. Your first glimpse is often of flashing white rumps. TOP TIP Listen to bullfinch calls at www.xeno-canto.org MISTLETOE TREETOP WONDER Bare leafless trees reveal shaggy clumps of this curious semi-parasitic plant, typically in apple trees, poplars or limes. Since mistletoe is evergreen, its untidy mass of oval leaves offers welcome shelter to overwintering invertebrates. The gooey white berries – poisonous to…

1 min.
also look out for…

SEASONAL DECORATION London planes in cities are festooned with dangling seed clusters, looking for all the world as if our street trees have been dressed for Christmas. Not much eats the fat brown baubels, as these trees aren’t native, though another alien species – the grey squirrel – might. WAGTAIL WINS Flocks of pied wagtails have taken to roosting in sheltered city-centre precincts and courtyards, where it is a few degrees warmer. Heathrow’s Terminal 5 has become one of the best-known wagtail roosts – see Daniel Trim’s winning photo in this issue’s British Wildlife Photography Awards 2017 supplement. SWEET SMELL A sudden hit of vanilla while you’re on a walk may indicate winter heliotrope. This plant, a garden escape, blooms in the bleak midwinter. Its scruffy pink flower-spikes are hardly showy: it is grown mainly…

3 min.
hidden britain

Estuaries are buzzing with birds in winter, all busy exploiting the riches of this habitat betwixt sea and sand. Each wader has its own set of foraging skills and tools to match, from the mechanical stitching of short-billed dunlin to the deft side-swipe of avocet and the careful probing of long-billed godwits. But one bird stands out: our only wader with a long decurved bill. Why does the common, or Eurasian, curlew have such a peculiar beak? A straight piece of hardware makes more mechanical sense. It is best for rapidly penetrating silt to reach prey, is stronger and experiences less stresses and flexion – and thus can be lighter, without the need for extra thickness and internal reinforcement found in a curlew bill. So there has to be another purpose…