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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine August 2019

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.
staying out...

When I think back to my own school summer holidays, growing up in North Devon, I think of long days at the beach, clambering over rockpools in search of an elusive starfish or crab, or following tiny footprints up in the sand dunes; of wandering through fields baked blonde by the sun, wondering what lived down the holes and in the hedgerows; or of days out up on Exmoor dodging sheep laying in the road, or, on a very good day, watching free-roaming Exmoor ponies. Now, with the school holidays well underway, my focus is on helping my young son discover the joys of a British summer for himself. Today, we may be armed with apps rather than spotters’ guides, and some of those fields may now be superstores, but there’s…

4 min.
wild month

1 | GRASS SNAKE Water world An idyllic pond, strewn with enough water lilies to keep Monet busy for hours, might seem an unlikely place to meet our largest, most abundant snake. Rather chilly for a sun-worshipping serpent, you might think. But the grass snake is a strong swimmer, and, by mid-morning on a summer’s day, having warmed up nicely by basking in a sheltered spot, it sets off to hunt. Top of the menu are amphibians and fish, which it stalks above and below the surface – sliding among floating lilies and weeds and through lush bankside vegetation to hide its approach. A decent meal will last the reptile two or even three weeks. Sharing this particular Nottinghamshire garden pond was photographer Jack Perks, an underwater specialist who, in June, completed an…

3 min.
mike dilger’s wildlife watching

Let’s face it, brownfield sites have an image problem. But just as you must never judge a book by its cover, the same maxim should apply to any wildlife habitat with a decidedly unappealing first impression. Brownfield sites, of course, don’t comprise urban wastelands alone, but also include abandoned quarries, discarded spoil-heaps, ex brick-pits, old railway lines, landfill sites and disused airfields. And while these assorted landscapes might appear too varied to categorise under just one banner, the one feature in common is that they all emanate from land originally altered by human activity (with the exception of farming and forestry). These seemingly abandoned and forgotten corners were once considered little more than ugly stains from our industrial past and so were largely ignored by the conservation community. However, it is…

1 min.
species to look out for

Skylark Smaller than a starling, the skylark is brown and streaky with a short crest. Famed for the aerial delivery of its song, this once-common farmland bird has found that brownfield sites can function as alternatives to its traditional grassland home. Slow-worm Neither a worm or a snake, the slow-worm ( below ) is in fact a legless lizard. Reaching up to 40cm in length, this shy, nocturnal predator of slugs and earthworms is rarely seen, unless uncovered while basking in the sun. Common lizard Reaching a length of about 15cm, the common lizard has a varied pattern of dark spots and lines and a brown background colour. It appears the warmth and lack of disturbance offered by brownfield sites have turned the habitat into an unlikely saviour for this declining reptile. Shrill carder bee So-called because…

1 min.
choice locations

1 Fallin Bing is a former coal-mining site located on the edge of Fallin village. Now managed by Stirling Council, the site has interesting plant assemblages thriving on the spoil. 2 River Don Fig Forest by Meadowhall Shopping Centre acts as a living reminder of Sheffield’s industrial past. Fig trees are thought to thrive here due to the rise in temperature caused when the River Don’s water was used to cool the city’s steel during the 20th century. 3 The Yellow Land Community Nature Reserve is close to Bishops Itchington in Warwickshire. Once a limestone quarry and cement works, the site now has a good range of butterflies, including grizzled skipper, common blue, ringlet and small heath. 4 Canvey Wick on Canvey Island, Essex, is co-managed by Buglife and the RSPB and has…

3 min.
hidden britain

NICK BAKER Reveals a fascinating world of wildlife that we often overlook. The freshwater pearl has famously adorned crowns and jewellery for centuries. So, it’s perhaps surprising that this natural treasure comes about as the end product of an irritating parasite or small foreign object within a mollusc – in this case, the freshwater pearl mussel. When the mollusc detects a foreign object, it envelops it and seals it in with a mixture of aragonite and calcite to form a substance known as nacre or mother of pearl. This is built up in fine microscopic layers over a period of years, giving a characteristic lustre. The formation of pearls is fascinating and plays a role in the story of mussels’ exploitation and conservation, but to really understand the factors that make this one…