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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine May 2020

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.
points of view

Just beyond the end of my road, there’s a small stone bridge over a gentle river, a weeping willow offering shade, and ancient ammonites set into the walls. But there’s something special there that transforms it from idyllic to magical: kingfishers nest nearby. I’ve watched their electric blue and orange flash in the sun as they perform their mating ritual. But my perspective from the bridge is nothing compared to the intimate angle described for us this issue by Robert Fuller, who built a hide into a false riverbank to observe these regal birds inside their nest. Talking of fresh perspectives, lockdown is presenting its own challenges. How can we engage with nature when our movements are so restricted? Fear not, we have a whole host of hot tips for you this…

1 min.
the people behind our stories

ROBERT E FULLER When it came to getting a closer look at kingfishers, naturalist Robert had a cunning plan: “I turned a shed into an artificial riverbank, with a CCTV camera system,” he explains. See p38 ELIZABETH GUNTRIP Having suffered with ME since the age of 17, writer Elizabeth is used to watching wildlife from her window. “I began to recognise the birds in my garden as individuals – each had nuances and preferences and I learnt to tell them apart.” See p54 JHENI OSMAN Science journalist Jheni delves into the eDNA revolution and how’s it’s being used to monitor a variety of species. “Environmental DNA looks set to be a game changer for conservation,” she says. See p32 CHRIS PACKHAM Chris advocates tuning in to nature to boost our well-being: “All those troubled endorphins that were…

1 min.
stick together

Bait balls, those tightly formed swirling masses of fish that twist and turn in unison, are a mesmerising natural spectacle. But, for the fish – in this case Atlantic horse mackerel – they are a last-ditch attempt to avoid being eaten by predators. While those at the centre of the ball are offered some protection from hungry jaws, the sheer number and proximity of these horse mackerel simultaneously create an all-you-can-eat buffet for the European barracudas and bluefish eagerly circling them.…

4 min.
wild month

1 | NIGHTINGALE Bursting into song When the human world is in turmoil, we can all take comfort in the beyond-human one. Birdsong is proven to give us a natural high, and one song in particular has been written about by almost every nature writer: that of the male nightingale. Shy and dowdy he may be, but when he opens that beak, he has the power and clarity of an opera singer, and the improvisation and range of a jazz diva. Though legendary for singing on May nights, this relative of the robin also performs in early morning and at dusk. The fact that it skulks in the shadows only adds to the sense of occasion. New undergrowth and scrub are what the species needs, ideally less than 10 years old. Sadly, heavy…

3 min.
mike dilger’s wildlife watching

Dunes are a world of constant change and movement, and must surely be the most mobile of all the UK’s land habitats. Peppered along stretches of our coastline, with a distinct westerly and northerly bias, they must also represent one of our least modified and therefore most ‘natural’ vegetation types. Typically, dunes are characterised by ridges or hillocks of sand beyond the reach of the highest tides, and usually run in bands parallel to the sea. Among them are low-lying depressions, called slacks. Dunes also tend to become progressively taller and more vegetated the further from the sea you go. Britain’s oldest dune systems date back 9,000 years, but all coastal dunes form the same way. Sand is blown onto the beach before becoming trapped by either debris or plant material just…

1 min.
species to look out for

Sand lizard By far the rarest of our three native lizards, this beautiful creature is confined to just a few sand dunes and heaths across England – though reintroduction programmes have recently helped to establish new populations. It is more robust and bulkier than its common counterpart. Males are easiest to spot in spring, as their large heads and flanks become flushed bright green to attract prospective mates. Northern marsh orchid This pretty plant is bright purple, with dark spots and lines marking the flowers, but it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other marsh orchid species. It flowers from late May through to July, and is most abundant in damp, coastal dune slacks. As its name suggests, the species’ main range is in Scotland, Wales and north-west England. Sea sandwort Fleshy and hairless…