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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine February 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.

This winter my bird feeders have been doing fantastic business, with a parade of finches, tits and sparrows outside the kitchen window delaying me until my washing up water goes cold. And robins, starlings and grey squirrels putting on a floor show outside the living room to rival anything on the TV. Our ground feeder even gets occasional visits from a badger and, in summer, the spilled seed attracts hedgehogs and field mice. Sadly, I have no chance yet of seeing beavers or red squirrels pattering across my Lincolnshire lawn, but they are becoming easier to see around the UK. When I was growing up you mainly had to go to the Highlands to see a squirrel that wasn’t grey. Now, reds like the ones we feature on p78 can…

1 min.

GILLIAN BURKE Gillian visited the Cornish Beaver Project while filming BBC Two’s Autumnwatch. “It was really exciting to see how quickly these charming animals set about rewilding the landscape,” she says. See p22 ROSS PIPER Ross is a zoologist and explorer. “We know next to nothing about life on Earth,” he says. “Not only how many species we share the planet with but how they all live and interact.” See p32 HELEN PILCHER Author Helen was inspired by the neon murmurations of the budgerigar. “These brilliant birds are so much more than the cuttlefish-chomping companions of popular conception,” she says. See p46…

1 min.
top billing

“A SNIPE WILL PLUNGE ITS ASTONISHING BEAK INTO SOFT OOZE RIGHT UP TO THE HILT, FEELING FOR BURIED WORMS.” The collective noun for snipe is a ‘wisp’, surely among the most poetic for any British bird. It specifically describes snipe in flight; you will seldom spot a tight flock of these waders on the mud of a marsh, floodplain or fen. As the light fades on winter afternoons, small groups of snipe may venture out from cover into open water, but generally they are birds seen feeding in ones or twos, probing the squelchy margins for hidden invertebrates. Those extraordinary beaks average 7cm long. “On an inventor’s blueprint their bill would seem unrealistically ludicrous, like a bird with a trunk,” wrote birder and author Tim Dee in Four Fields (Jonathan Cape, 2013).…

3 min.
uk highlights

RED FOX CALL OF THE WILD It’s 350-odd years since wild wolves were heard in Britain, and the screams of female foxes on winter nights serve as a spine-tingling reminder of what we lost. Foxes typically breed between December and February, or perhaps later in the northern half of the country. Vixens utter blood-curdling cries to attract dog foxes, while both sexes use quieter, throaty ‘wow-wow-wow’ barks to stay in touch. If you spot two foxes together at this time, it’s probably a dog fox sticking close to his mate to try to guard her from rivals. FIND OUT MORE www.thefoxwebsite.net DEVIL’S MATCHSTICKS LICHEN TROOPS This fabulous lichen sprouts dense clusters of tiny fingers up to 2cm high, which resemble old-fashioned red-tipped matches. With a bit of imagination, they also recall Red Coat infantry from a…

1 min.
also look out for…

FIRST FLOWERS By February lesser celandine, a member of the buttercup family, should be its unfurling its first bright yellow blooms. It can be abundant in urban areas – often around street trees, in cemeteries or along paths – as well as in the countryside. The flowers are popular with bumblebees and flies. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN One non-native species making its presence felt this month is the grey squirrel. In late winter, males chase females up, down and around trees, hoping to mate. Listen too for their loud, sneeze-like calls. BUNTING BOOM This year’s Winterwatch is reporting on one of Britain’s big farmland conservation success stories: the cirl bunting comeback in Devon and Cornwall. Winter is often a good time to spot small flocks of these handsome birds at RSPB Labrador Bay, near…

2 min.

What’s Belize all about? Despite its small size, Belize is bursting with history and culture, and is a true haven for wildlife, both in its crystal-clear waters and plentiful parks and reserves. Central America’s second smallest nation offers a fascinating mix of cultures, and is also home to the best-known classical civilisation of Mesoamerica – the ancient Maya. With the second largest barrier reef in the world, Belize boasts amazing marine life. On terra firma, dense jungle covers many parts of the country and is home to abundant flora and fauna, from Baird’s tapir (Belize’s national animal) to the colourful Keel-billed toucan. When to go and how to get there? The best time to visit is December to May. As British summertime is typically wet in Belize, this is the ideal place for…