Robert Burton

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"The black-and-white facial stripes are believed to be a warning to other Badgers and possible predators that they are stern adversaries capable of delivering a savage bite, although other functions have been suggested."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"That hornets are crepuscular is well known and research has shown that they remain active until a little after civil twilight (sun 6° below horizon), about 30 minutes after sunset, but not as late as nautical twilight (sun 12° below horizon) 30 to 50 minutes later."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"Every now and then the subject of Blackbird song crops up in the Letters page of The Times and correspondents tell of birds incorporating snatches of well-known tunes into their songs."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"The story of how South Georgia was rid of rodents has as its basis the pioneer work by the New Zealanders who have successfully cleared a number of islands of rats by spreading bait laced with the anticoagulant poison Brodifacoum."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"In buzz pollination, a bumblebee lands on a flower and rapidly contracts the flight muscles to produce a sharp, powerful buzz, of a different pitch from the buzz of an angry bee."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"When I am lucky, strong westerlies blow through the autumn and the falling leaves are swept into neighbouring gardens."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"One annoying aspect of my arachnophobia is that the natural history of spiders has so many fascinating features which I have never been able to bring myself to explore."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"Twitcher has, once again, hit the nail on the head. In BW 28: 381 he draws attention to the problem of dog poo discarded in plastic bags. The solution, however, is one that should surely appeal to our increasingly eco-friendly society."

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"One difficulty with investigating the role of smell is that we do not use it extensively ourselves. Indeed, I am hyposmic; I knew that I was missing something when I went to a wine-tasting and failed to see the point of it. Another difficulty is that smell is still something of a mystery sense. We

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"It has become clear that bats are doing much more than simply locating and tracking their prey by means of echolocation (and discriminating between a pebble and an insect). With electronic equipment being developed to emulate the hearing of bats, the sophistication of their echolocation is being revealed at a level that is hard to

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"As well as being persecuted for their dense underfur, which made the best felt hats, beavers have long interested naturalists for their aquatic adaptations and unique behaviour of modifying their environment. There have, as usual, been some strange ideas. The Comte de Buffon, the 18th-century French naturalist and writer of the 36-volume Histoire Naturelle, asserted

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"Every week I receive a copy of the free local newspaper. It is stuffed into the short section of drainpipe that I have put up for the purpose at the end of the drive. Nearly every week the newspaper shows evidence of being chewed, and fragments of print have disappeared. The culprits are Garden Snails

Through a naturalist’s eyes

“‘Among the crooked lanes, in every hedge, the Glow-worm lights his gem and through the dark, a moving radiance twinkles.’ The Rev. W. Bingley was, of course, wrong that it was ‘his’ gem, and Glow-worm is a prosaic name for an insect that attracts so much poetic writing. My favourite is John Murray’s suggestion that

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"My education in zoology was based on comparative anatomy, The archetypal essay title was 'Compare and contrast the annelids and arthropods'. My invertebrate textbook and 'bible', known as BEPS (authors: Borradaile, Eastman, Potts & Saunders), was illustrated with simple line drawings of animals and parts of animals. We learned ven/ little about how these animals

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"I should not be too dismissive of the general populace's failure to distinguish between harmless hoverfly and harmful hymenopteran, Only last week, I was admiring the furry thorax of a bee perched on a leaf, and then the penny dropped as I realised that its eyes met in the middle of its head and its

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"Stabilisation is also the reason for a Woodpigeon or Pheasant nodding its head, throwing it forwards and then keeping it steady while the body moves forwards. Anyone who has tried to train binoculars on birds from a heaving ship's deck will appreciate the need for a steady platform. The most graphic demonstration that l have seen

Through a naturalist’s eyes

A snippet that, had there been more space, would have been included in my piece about dormice in the last issue concerned the origin of their name. I had always thought that 'dormouse' was derived from the Anglo-Norman dormeus, meaning 'sleepy one', but I found that there is a case for its coming from the

Through a naturalist’s eyes

"My first 'nature book' was The Lapwing by Eric Ennion. It was published in 1949 as the first in a series of Field Study Books With Ennion as general editor. l can still remember the pleasure which I had from handling this book, mainly because of the cover – a montage with an Oystercatcher, some beetles, Sycamore

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