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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine March 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

1 min.

We’re used to looking at human faces and working out what kind of mood their owners are in. But when we’re watching our near-relations, the non-human primates, in a documentary, chances are we’re paying more attention to what they are doing with their bodies, and the vocalisations they are making, than we are studying their faces. Well, as top wildlife photographers Fiona Rogers and Anup Shah have shown in their fantastic images (p66) other primates use the muscles of their faces in similar ways to ourselves. One glance and the look of love, fear, anger, humility and superiority is apparent and needs no body language, chatter or croon to make the emotion behind it abundantly clear. Facial expressions were undoubtedly furthest from the mind of Vincent Munier, though, on his recent…

1 min.

MIKE UNWIN Nature writer Mike had a special wildlife experience in the Commander Islands. He says, “I couldn’t help scanning for one last Steller’s sea cow. You just never know.” NIKI RUST Niki is a carnivore conservationist. In this issue she writes about one of her favourite animals, the spotted hyena. “They get a bad rap but for no good reason,” she says. FIONA ROGERS Photographers Fiona Rogers (pictured) and Anup Shah have spent years with wild primates. “They still surprise us with their range of expressions and make us wonder what they are feeling,” says Fiona.…

1 min.
spawning season

Freshly laid frogspawn has an uncanny ability to lift our spirits on the chilliest of February and March days. But not only is frogspawn a sign that spring is just around the corner, it’s also extraordinary in itself. A protein that draws water into the egg mass is the secret that enables animals just 9cm long to produce such copious volumes of jelly. A large female frog may deposit as many as 2,000 eggs – no wonder these amphibians have long been associated with fecundity – and the spawnings of different individuals clump together in wobbling rafts. Unseasonally late freezing weather can spell disaster for exposed frogspawn at or above the water level – killing it off and turning it milky – though underwater eggs at the bottom of the floating…

3 min.
uk highlights

STINGING NETTLE GREEN SHOOTS As winter turns into spring, the greening of our countryside becomes a highlight of nature rambles. Among the emerging foliage is the vibrant lime-green of fresh nettle shoots. Nettle is an underrated wildlife resource – food for everything from caterpillars to aphids – and a tasty treat for us at this time of year, too. But thick nettle patches can also be a symptom of air pollution boosting soil nitrogen levels, with an impact Plantlife’s Trevor Dines likens to “nutrient-rich junk food”. GET INVOLVED 28 March is National Weed Appreciation Day. GERMANDER SPEEDWELL BLUE STARS Constellations of tiny, neon-blue stars in grassy places are probably germander speedwell. This low-growing, early-flowering plant brightens up field edges, verges, hedgebanks and woodland rides from March, persisting until midsummer. At the centre of each beautiful four-petalled…

1 min.
also look out for…

BEE QUEST Naturalists have been known to engage in friendly rivalry to see who spots the season’s first hairy-footed (or feather-footed) flower bee (below). This solitary bee loves nectar of early-flowering lungwort and red dead-nettle. ODDBALL INSECT One of our most curious-looking insects, the bee-fly, is out and about now. Its combination of a fat, furry body and long, rod-like proboscis held out in front is unique. Look for it in gardens and along hedgerows. SEABIRDS RETURN Britain’s celebrated seabird cities stir back into life in March, as winter’s bare and bleak cliffs begin to be repopulated by gannets, auks, kittiwakes and fulmars. TOADS ON ROADS Common toads are also following ‘marching orders’ to reach their breeding ponds. Help your local toad patrol at www.froglife.org/toads-on-roads NESTING HERONS Grey herons are already sitting on eggs this month – a few…

3 min.
hidden britain

When I want to spot something I’ve never seen before, or simply meet something very weird, I head for the coast. The shores of the British Isles offer rich pickings for the naturalist, especially at this time of the year. One of my favourite coastal creatures that I’ve stumbled upon requires more than a cursory glance to appreciate its true lugubrious splendour. Go rockpooling at the very lowest of the low spring tides and you’ll increase your chances of meeting Montagu’s sea snail, Liparis montagui. The first thing you need to know is that it isn’t a mollusc, but a fish in the snailfish family, Liparididae. All the snailfish are pretty strange, though I have a particular fondness for Montagu’s. Not only is it the species you’re most likely to encounter, as…