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BBC Wildlife Magazine

BBC Wildlife Magazine December 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.
change with the seasons

In our cover feature this month, Peter Cairns laments the view of a neighbour in the Scottish Highlands, who felt that wildlife was little more than decoration, or at best something to tuck into. Fortunately, not everybody shares that opinion, and Peter’s 25-year journey to rewild his small part of the planet is an inspirational story of how, when we humans stop getting in the way, nature just loves to bloom. Which, as it turns out, is also good for business – something to give a bit of hope during these darks days. On the subject of more literal dark days, if you think of the festive period as a time to curl up indoors, while the natural world sleeps outside – or heads for warmer climes – then it’s time…

1 min.
the people behind our stories

DANIEL KRONAUER The associate professor and author puts the world of army ants under the microscope. “These ants take cooperation and efficiency to another level,” he says. “They move as a single giant battalion.” See p38 TOBY NOWLAN Involved in a photo-ID project to survey the world’s rarest rhino, naturalist Toby tells us about his time in the jungle: “Few humans have ever set eyes on a Javan rhino in the wild, due to the impenetrable nature of their habitat.” See p56 ALEX MORSS The botanist reveals why old quarries and mines are a stairway to heaven for metal-loving flora. “Hyper-accumulating heavy metals helps plants build defences by means of chemical warfare,” she says. See p80 CLARE BALDING The Eurasian otter is worthy of a gold medal, says sports presenter Clare: “It is such a sleek, fast,…

1 min.
in focus

Black panther Excess amounts of melanin – the dark pigment found in skin and hair – can cause all sorts of animals to lose their characteristic coloration, as they take on a striking all-black appearance. Among big cats, the leopard (pictured here, its spots only just discernable) and the jaguar are thought to exhibit melanism in about 10 per cent of their populations. Often referred to as ‘panthers’ in their melanistic state, these arresting felines have gained an almost mystical status. Winter waters A northern pike swims through the eerie tangle of an underwater forest. Located in central Spain, between the provinces of Albacete and Ciudad Real, Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park is home to 15 lagoons, which offer divers “underwater landscapes of tremendous beauty, full of life,” says photographer Jose Pesquero. To…

4 min.
wild month

1 | GOLDFINCH The gilded goldfinch God knows the world needs all the good it can get right now – Out in the gardens and fields, Goldfinches are gilding the land for free The opening lines of Goldfinch, a poem in Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s new book The Lost Spells, remind us that garden birds are joy-bringers in difficult times, yet not something we can take for granted. Canaries in the coal mine, their fortunes should concern us all. Perhaps this is why we feed birds, and the goldfinch is a perfect example of how doing so can change the populations and behaviour of individual species. In Britain, our relationship with this glittering gem with the tinkling voice is particularly close. Always a prized cage bird, it nowadays is better known as one…

3 min.
hidden britain

NICK BAKER Reveals a fascinating world of wildlife that we often overlook. Worms get about. The UK’s many species occur in all manner of habitats, not just your garden soil. Among plenty of marine worms, there are a few extraverts that employ fancy fans and tendrils of sticky threads to sift and fiddle particles of edible material into their waiting mouths. But, mostly, the worm world is a relatively simple place. By far the commonest strategy is for a worm to swallow soil or silt at one end, and, by a process of internal sorting, scrub it of the organic matter, bacteria and minerals that the animal needs. Think worm casts on your lawn: the earthworm ingests soil, removes what it needs and excretes clean soil behind it in a wiggly creation…

1 min.
building on the beaches

Dozens of marine worms don’t, for the most part, draw too much attention to themselves. However, one species, the sand mason worm, does venture into view. It lives vertically in the sand, but creates an ‘extension’ that protrudes a centimetre or so above the surface. Fine stringy tentacles stick out from this sandy structure, with branches to collect particles from the water and surrounding sediment. Some are to eat, others to maintain the ‘extension’. Look for this strange miniature ‘forest’ on beaches at low tide.…