What do I love...

February 26, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

In an online world often seemingly filled with what we hate or criticise or what we have a problem with, or what makes us worried or anxious or furious... today, I'm going to write a short blog post about nothing more than what I love... and that's all.

Of course, this being a wildlife blog, I won't mention things I love like my wife. Nor boys. Nor hens. Nor cats. Nor Bristol rugby team. Nor cottage pie. Nor ACDC. Nor the Lycian coast.

I'll try to keep to natural, wildlife things found in the UK. 

Some you'll agree with. Some you won't. But that's fine.

This is my list and whilst certainly not exhaustive, is comprised of things that I could think of that I love, pretty-well immediately.

I expect I'll add to it in the days ahead...


Here we go then...


The solitude of dawn. The best time of the day. Always.

The magic of dusk. When the humans retire and the animals stir...

The prettiest-feathered of all our owls I think - tawnies - and their wonderful, winter mating calls which cut through black, skeletal woods.

The first appearance of celandines in glades and verges, as winter draws to a close.

The magnificent, explosive exuberance of blackthorn blossom, turning whole hedges white.

The unassuming, omnipresent daisies - so often overlooked.

The heads of brimstone butterflies - like tiny miniature Battenberg cakes (look closer!).

The alien, hovering prowess of bee flies and drone flies.

The zippiest of all our bees - the feather-footed flower bees and their frantic feeding flights between lungwort flowers. 

The Hawaiian tropic smell of crushed gorse flowers.

The flashy white rumps of the dandy wheatears.

The gold-leaf eyes of our much maligned toads.

The frantic fury of frogs at spawning time.

The first lime-green leaves unfurling against the first real blue skies.

The first truly warm day of the year - when you can feeeel the sun on your face/back/arse (delete where applicable!).

The hedgehogs' ambling run - like a tiny, wee old Citroen car, raising its shocks and suspension (legs) and then poddling off at speed.

The deciduous woods in spring and summer. Where I've always felt most at ease. Most at peace. And most alive.

The May dawn choruses in those above woodlands. Almost overwhelming to me with my eyes closed.

The English bluebell displays. Just the colour!

The smell of wild garlic - I know I'm in my woodland "happy place" when I smell this warm, green smell.

The roe deer. I think our prettiest British mammal.

The badgers - endlessly fascinating to me.

The craziness of stoats and weasels - such amazing wee things to see.

The clarity of the (hidden) nightingales' song.

The swallows' metallic-ruby throats.

The perfectness of house martins' black and white missile look.

The swifts of course. Just THE best.

The mass dance of mayflies over sparkly slow-moving water.

The brilliance of bats - I mean... properly flying (not gliding - FLYING) mammals. And they're basically blind too! Ridiculous!

The pine trees. Make me feel like I'm abroad, in the sun. I don't know why.

The lowland heaths of southern England. See above.

The crickets. Be they speckled bush cricket nymphs or the more locust-like Roesel's bush crickets. And the sounds they make! 

The devilish nightjars - 2nd only to swifts as my favourite birds of all. Their plumage, their uniqueness and of course... their nocturnal call!

The prettiest, biggest and most impressive (I think) of all our snakes - grass snakes.

The dashing hobbies with their russet pyjama bottoms, fierce, pale eyebrows and black moustache. I think more amazing than peregrines!

The dragonflies. Speak to my uncle about these ridiculous things - but... you know he has a point!

The blue butterflies from silver studded to adonis. Filling our downland and meadows with dancing bits of shattered sky.

The little owls - and their fierce-stared sunbathing on the baking asbestos roofs of cattle sheds.

The buzzards and red kites thermal soaring in giant, high circles on long, hot mornings.

The peregrines which turn a drab tower block into a constant source of amazement - red in tooth and claw.

The sound of pine cones cracking open on trees under the warmth of the sun.

The visible pollen clouds from fir trees. The actual stuff of life (and no... I don't suffer from hay-fever).

The metallic bottle green rose chafers and their audible, whirring flight around photinia flowers.

The dusk-helicoptering stag beetles before Spring (and summer) thunderstorms.

The smell of algae on lock gates.

The leaf cutter bees antics - ferrying bits of rose leaves and sometimes petals to their tubular nests.

The flying golden grains of rice, blue mason bees, with their spectacular eyes (look closer!).

The bright orange tawny mining bees. A perfect bee!

The made up (they CAN'T be real can they?) metallic green and blue and crimson and yellow ruby-tailed  (or jewel) wasps.

The song thrushes  -which in my youth, sang on every TV aerial, but now are hidden spotty gems in hedgerows.

The sound of kingfishers... giving a staccato, high-pitched intercity PEEP as they arrow down a river, 3 foot above the water.

The smell of cut grass. 

The lurid-pink elephant hawk moths. And people say moths are boring.

The hummingbird hawk moths dancing around red valerian and buddleja at dusk. See above.

The ginger and white tree bumblebees. The coolest bumblebees around - and the ONLY bumblebee that will accept a human-made home.

The gentle giant wasps - the hornets. So much nicer than their Germanic cousins.

Jumping spiders. All jumping spiders. The PR face of arachnids.

The west coast beaches. Give me the Sands of Woolacombe, of Croyde, of Newgale, of St.David's head, of Freshwater west and of Saunton.

The most underrated (I think) sea birds of all. The 'top of milk' gannets.

The swallows of the sea - the terns. All terns.

The Labradors of the western seas - grey seals.

The southern and western part of the Isle of Wight. Heaven on an island.

The Scottish highlands on a (the!) beautiful day in the year.

The red squirrels. Their ears in particular. The only delightful squirrel. 

The view from tall cliffs.

The sparkly, dark, lowland rivers. The river Dart in particular.

The enigmatic dippers. No-one knows why they "dip". And that's fine by them.

The hares - so much more than rabbits.

The wagtails. ALL wagtails. Almost human in their mannerisms. And comical to boot.

The jays. Everything about them. Their perky crests. Their pink and blue and black and white feathers. Their intelligence.

The panicky fast-walk (away from you) of disturbed partridges.

The firework colours of beech trees in the Autumn.

The New Forest. Probably one of two or three spots in the UK that I'd like to retire to. One day.

The fly agarics. Stuff of fairy tale!

The way big, bold, laughing green woodpeckers bounce around meadows looking for ants with their beady pale eyes...

The rattle of winter Fieldfares.

The excited tinkling of a flock of waxwing that has discovered a berry feast.

The spectacular goldeneye drakes' displays on our February gravel pits.

The whistling wigeon - just the most perfect of winter sounds.

The animal tracks in fresh snow, before it (the snow) is ruined by people or cars or warmth.

The Spring equinox - the end of winter. The proper end!

The unexpected.

The unfinishe















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