Coastal

Comment: Arthur’s crow: the spirit of the wild?

Said to be the guardian of King Arthur’s soul, the Chough has long been a bird of legend. 80% of the Chough’s UK population is in Wales, but in Scotland their range has significantly reduced and is now restricted to Islay and Colonsay. In this article James Robertson considers the best approach to conserve Chough populations, considering either

Reserve Focus: Mounts Bay MCZ

Mounts Bay, in Cornwall, supports an exceptional diversity of marine life. In 2016, part of the bay was designated as a Marine Conservation Zone owing to the variety of habitats present and the presence of a number of notable species. It remains to be seen whether this protected status will be sufficient to conserve the area’s

St Helena: the island of endemics

The UK has over 1,500 endemic species, the vast majority of which are found in its Overseas Territories. One such territory is the tiny, isolated island of St Helena, which alone supports more than 500 endemics. The arrival of humans on St Helena has had a devastating impact on its habitats and species, but work

Classic Wildlife Sites: The Wash

The Wash is perhaps the most important estuarine system in the whole of the British Isles. Its vast expanse of mudflats and saltmarshes attract huge numbers of waders and wildfowl, while the surrounding dunes and beaches provide a haven for numerous other species of interest. Will Brown provides an overview of the history and ecological significance

Reserve focus: Ouaisne Common SSI, Jersey

Despite its small size, Ouaisne Common supports a remarkable diversity of species. The site is known for being the only natural British site of the Agile Frog, but its location, some 100 miles south of England, means that a number of the reserve’s other species are rare in, or absent from mainland Britain. Guy Freeman provides

The changing plant communities of Scotland’s sand dunes and machair

The sand dunes and machair of Scotland’s coast support diverse wildflower communities, but these are extremely vulnerable to changes in land use. A large dataset has provided botanists with a unique opportunity to assess the state of these habitats in Scotland, and examine how and why they have changed over the past 30 years. Robin

The natural history of a sand-dune blowout

Sand-dune blowouts provide challenging conditions for life due to their constantly changing nature. Despite this, they can support a wide variety of rare, specialist plants and animals. The ‘Devil’s Hole’ in Merseyside is one of the largest blowouts in the UK, providing ideal breeding conditions for species such as the Natterjack Toad and Northern Dune

Island restoration in the UK – past, present and future

Not only do the UK’s islands support globally important populations of seabirds, they are also home to species and subspecies found nowhere else in the world. However, islands are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of invasives, and alien species are threatening many of these special wildlife sites. This article describe previous conservation efforts and proposes

Classic Wildlife Sites: Chesil Beach and the Fleet

The Chesil Beach area is extremely important for a wide variety of taxa. The beach itself supports characteristic shingle plants and rare invertebrates, while the enclosed Fleet Lagoon provides ideal habitat for specialist marine life, migratory waders and wintering waterfowl. Chesil experts explain why the site is so important for wildlife, and take a look

Reserve Focus: WWT Steart Marshes, Somerset

Creating and managing habitats is no easy task, yet the environmental benefits of wetlands and marshes are far-reaching. Andrew Branson explores the Steart Marshes and its wildlife. Somerset is a big county with many quiet corners. I like to think of it as a giant bowl encircled by a rim of hills – the Mendips in

The mystery of the Orkney Vole

The Orkney Vole offers a window into 130 years of British natural history and an island mystery that involves ecologists, archaeologists and geneticists. These interdisciplinary endeavours are providing striking insights into the potential pace of evolution and the role of human history in shaping our wildlife today. Here, the authors tell a tale of ecological and

The Grey Seals of Bardsey

The bird life of Bardsey has been well documented, but the island’s significant population of Grey Seals has only comparatively recently started to be explored. It provides an interesting insight into the UK’s overall population. There is a windswept and remote speck of land just off the north coast of Wales that hosts a significant

Wallasea: a wetland designed for the future

The RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project (hereafter ‘Wallasea’), in Essex, will be by far the largest (670ha) coastal wetland ever constructed in Britain. Its design includes a range of features aimed at providing valuable habitat for wildlife, both now and under a range of future sea levels and climatic conditions. In this article, the

The reintroduction of the Short-haired Bumblebee

The restoration of lost species to Britain is never easy. In the past, most attention has been given to vertebrates, with notable successes such as the Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus and White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, and continuing efforts for the Pool Frog Pelophylax lessonae. Here, the authors report on a project to reintroduce an extinct bumblebee,

The Glanville Fritillary: a disappearing gem?

Recent research has cast light on the fluctuating fortunes of one of Britain’s rarest butterflies, and the author believes that, without further study and follow-up conservation action, the Glanville Fritillary could be the next species to disappear from this country. Back in the 1970s, the eminent lepidopterist Jeremy Thomas was interviewed for Radio Times. He

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