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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine September 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.
relative danger...

There’s something so familiar about looking into the eyes of any great ape, something that resonates within us when we engage with our ancestral cousins – it’s hard not to take what’s happening to the Tapanuli orangutan personally. It’s been less than two years since it was recognised as a new species, and yet already its very existence is under threat from the construction of a hydroelectric dam. This issue, we visit the endangered Sumatran forest it calls home to find out what makes this species special (p56). Of course, it’s not only great apes that tug at our heart strings. And just as we instinctively look to protect our own young, so too is it difficult to resist the charms of animal babies. This was the subject of a recent…

1 min.
in focus

Say ‘cheese’! Ever wondered how to tell a crocodile from an alligator? Well, the clue’s in the chops. Look for a longer, thinner snout and two larger teeth that jut up over the top jaw when its mouth is closed. Floating in the Jardines de la Reina National Park, 80km off the coast of Cuba, this American crocodile will have an incredible 66 or so teeth in total. But despite its fearsome appearance, it largely feeds on small mammals, fish, birds, frogs, crabs, snails and insects. As it is unable to chew, a crocodile will tear and gulp down prey. Small ingested stones then grind up the food in its stomach. Taking the heat Gemsboks are the national animal of Namibia – and for good reason. They are one of the few large mammals…

4 min.

1 | JAY Screamer of the woods A few birds look somehow too exotic to be truly British. They stop you in your tracks, making passers-by who aren’t already birdwatchers ask: ‘What on Earth is that?’ Thrilling encounters like this may even spark a lifelong interest in wildlife. A jay is such a bird. Though widespread in the British Isles and currently doing well, jays are by far our shyest species of crow, spending much of their time moving quietly among foliage. So, they tend to escape our notice. But all this changes between September and November, when these colourful corvids find their extrovert side. Data from BirdTrack, the interactive recording system run by the British Trust for Ornithology, show that sightings of jays climb rapidly during September, then peak in October, when…

3 min.
mike dilger’s wildlife watching

The importance of the humble hedgerow as a ‘wildlife B&B’ cannot be overestimated. Commonly encountered lining a plethora of roads, railways, footpaths, fields and gardens, these green arteries crossing town and country must be considered one of the most easily encountered of all our wildlife habitats. Effectively representing strips of woodland habitat, hedgerows come in all shapes and sizes. There’s everything from heavily flailed and gappy hedges to huge, mature bushes festooned with other plants. However, the most nature-friendly hedges tend to be those tapered in shape. Diversity is crucial, too – a variety of woody species, such as hawthorn, blackthorn and field maple, occasionally overtopped by oak, ash or beech, is best. Rambling plants, such as bramble, honeysuckle, wild roses and clematis, will be a prominent feature. And the hedges’ foundations…

1 min.
species to look out for

Hawthorn Having been extensively appropriated for stock-proofing due to its spiky nature, hawthorn is surely our commonest shrub. Also known as the May flower, due to the masses of white blossom produced each spring, the equally distinctive bright-red haws provide food for mammals preparing for hibernation and newly-arriving winter thrushes. Blackthorn Similarly thorny, this shrub’s flowers, by contrast, appear well before its leaves unfurl. Early spring blossom seemingly brings alive what might initially appear to be a dead-looking hedge. In autumn, bitter black sloes are formed – favoured by birds and gin aficionados. Bramble As a wildlife-friendly plant, bramble excels on every level. The nectar and blackberries provide a source of food for birds, mammals and invertebrates right from spring to late autumn, while the arching, thorny stems make the perfect nesting place for birds,…

1 min.
choice locations

1 Coombes Valley in Staffordshire is a nature reserve managed by the RSPB. The wonderfully mature hedges allow woodland birds, such as redstarts, to effortlessly move around the reserve, without breaking cover. 2 Asham Meads in Oxfordshire is managed by the local Wildlife Trust. The mature blackthorn hedges are a great location to track down the elusive and late-flying brown hairstreak butterfly. 3 Creephedge Lane, near South Woodham Ferrers, in Essex, does indeed have a creeping hedge! In amongst the impenetrable blackthorn, a range of other ancient hedgerow plants can be found. 4 The Phoenix Hedge, which runs between Henleaze Park Road and Phoenix Grove in the city of Bristol is thought to have been in existence for 800 years, making it one of the oldest known hedgerows in the country. 5 Llanelli Levels,…