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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine Spring 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.

It was a magic moment on a diving holiday when I saw my first humphead, aka Napoleon, wrasse in the Indian Ocean. One of those occasions when you almost forget you’ve been told not to hold your breath when you’re using compressed air. The fish was as interested in our small group of divers as we were in it and none of us wanted to break the spell as it circled curiously, looking with its huge swivelling eyes. Helen Scales’ article on p68 had me right back in the water with my ‘Napoleon’. Our own James Fair had a land-based adverture last year when he set out to cycle the length of Britain in the same time frame as spring spreads northward. Even if you’re not inclined to do anything as…

1 min.

JAMES FAIR BBC Wildlife’s environment editor James cycled the length of Britain to see if he could keep pace with the advance of spring. “Maybe next year I’ll cycle south and track the onset of autumn,” he says. See p›2 MARY COLWELL Writer/producer Mary walked 500 miles in spring 2016 to find out why the Eurasian curlew is disappearing. “I met artists, musicians and writers all inspired by this red listed wader,” she says. See p4› HELEN SCALES Marine biologist Helen spent years studying an iconic, endangered fish. “Humphead wrasse are like rhinos of the sea,” she says. “They’re vanishing because of the price tag on their heads.” See p6›…

1 min.
down by the waterline

April can be wonderful for watching water voles. Their breeding season is in full swing, with the first youngsters leaving burrows by the end of the month and before long thinking about breeding themselves. At this time their bankside world has yet to be hidden by luxuriant herbage, such as sedges, tall grasses, yellow iris, meadowsweet and purple loosestrife. Be very patient, pick a good spot – look for fresh burrows, oval droppings and piles of neatly snipped vegetation – and cross your fingers. It has to be said, it’s becoming much harder to find Ratty. A new Wildlife Trusts report shows that water voles’ range in England and Wales shrank by 30 per cent in 2006–15, even with the boost from reintroduction projects such as Cornwall’s Bude River and Northumberland’s…

3 min.
uk highlights

RINGED PLOVER BEACHCOMBER These smart little waders are much in evidence on Britain’s coasts in spring, when resident birds are joined by many others en route from winter homes in the Mediterranean and West Africa to breeding grounds in Iceland, Greenland and Canada. But despite their bold markings, ringed plovers seem to vanish on pebble and shingle beaches – their preferred habitat. Also on the move now are their scarcer relatives, little ringed plovers, which sport yellow eye-rings and legs and are mostly seen inland. FIND OUT MORE Learn more about waders at www.wadertales.wordpress.com BLUEBELL TRUE BLUE “You don’t need to be a botanist to feel uplifted by the mist of bluebells tracing the woodland floor,” reflects Peter Marren in his lovely new book Chasing the Ghost. But like a ‘gateway drug’, late April and May’s…

1 min.
also look out for…

PURPLE HAZE Traditionally associated with Easter, the pasqueflower usually blooms throughout April. Rather like a giant crocus, it favours short chalk grassland and is now a great rarity. One of the best UK sites is Hertfordshire’s Therfield Heath – an inspiring place managed by the local community. SPRING SWARMS Visit a wetland or damp scrubby woodland in late April and you might notice clouds of black flies hanging in the air. These are St Mark’s flies. Note their very distinctive flight silhouette with curious dangly legs. BATS ABOUT Pipistrelles and other bats are fully active again. For a change, why not watch them in the half-light just before dawn – it’s a good time to see bats gathering around rooftops before they enter roosts. Watch a video of a dawn swarm at www.bats.org.uk/pages/sunset_sunrise_survey.html DRAGON DANCING Our most…

3 min.
hidden britain

As a boy I collected pond life and proudly exhibited my micro-aquaria in my parents’ shed. I kept my charges in a carefully curated assortment of jam jars, tubs, tubes and tanks. One quiet evening I heard a determined buzzing. After a bit of triangulation, I discovered the rasping was emanating from a ‘jamming’ jam jar. Inside were water boatmen. I had just become aware of a secret world of insect acoustic ecology. My lively pond bugs were singing like crickets. I’ve since heard water boatmen called ‘water crickets’ in North America, and while they use different parts of their bodies to produce their scratchy tunes, the method is similar. Rubbing bits of the body together to create sound is known as stridulation. Most of my captives were lesser water boatmen, which…