What happens when the habitat requirements, the daily activities, indeed the very existence of a charismatic and much beloved animal is perceived to be detrimental to the continued proliferation of an economically valuable one? Well, if the perception in question is that of England’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the valuable animals in question are cattle, the answer is clear: kill the “troublesome” animals, regardless of however charismatic or beloved they might be.
Such, in a nutshell, is the present situation in England as one of the most scientifically questionable and repeatedly bungled wildlife management schemes in modern history continues to play out: the badger cull. And yet while this long-running wildlife management debacle regularly assures readership to both print and online news sources alike, it had been a bit difficult to understand fully – even for those who regularly follow its developments. However since the publication of Dominic Dyer’s Badgered to Death; the People and Politics of of the Badger Cull, the entire history, as well as the backgrounds of the key players and their respective roles, can be discovered in a mere few hours. Keep reading…
Recent Book Reviews
Thoughtful. Heartening. Reflective.
Inspirational. Fortifying. Delightful.
Amazing. Gentle. Magical.
Enthralling. Transformative. Relaxing.
These are only some of the words I have already used in conversations, both in person and virtual, to describe Melissa Harrison’s superb (there’s another…) Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons. Keep reading…
When it comes to spectator sports, birding ranks somewhere in between bass fishing and reading. For while the watching and tallying of birds can be enjoyable, relaxing, invigorating, and even emotionally and spiritually restorative, the watching of others watching birds is anything but. Which is quite likely why, despite birding being the preferred hobby of quite literally millions, perhaps even tens of millions, of people all around the world; other than in England – where natural history is a part of the national culture in a way that it is no where else – you will not see birding represented in any significant way in the popular media. Keep reading…
Newly Noted Books
Robert Michael Pyle has been writing about nature for one year more than I’ve been drawing breath. And while I consider myself reasonably well-read when it comes to his published books, I know that an additional and significant portion of his writing has seen print in a host of different periodicals, anthologies, and in introductions to the books of other writers.
When it comes to dinosaurs, there are few who can match the enthusiasm for the subject than that possessed by children with a particular interest in them. To be sure, paleontologists know their field of study, but for sheer exuberance-driven knowledge, your dino-obsesed ten-year-old is a perpetually bubbling font of information like few others.
Come this November, a new field guide will be added to the illustrious Peterson Field Guides series: the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America. Written by by Jesse Fagan and Oliver Komar, this new guide will provide species accounts for more than eight hundred birds that are found in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
To say that the Mesozoic fossils that have been discovered in the Jehol region of China are remarkable is to greatly understate the matter; they are breath-taking. And among all the fossils found, few can rival those of the early birds discovered there.
The American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, is found from east Texas, throughout much of the gulf coast states – including all of Louisiana and Florida – in portions of Missouri, and to the eastern halves of Georgia and both Carolinas; however it is those in Texas that biologist Louise Hayes has been studying since 1985.
When it comes to iconic British animals, four immediately spring to mind – my mind, at least – the fox, the hedgehog, the dormouse, and the badger. The first of these is, most regrettably, the subject of scorn and the target of hunters, the next two are unrestrainedly beloved, but the last is a bit of a conundrum, being both legally protected and at the same time the subject of a government-directed extermination campaign.
Unlike James Taylor, I will soon be going to California not only in my mind but in an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737. I’ll be there for a week to attend to some business for Celestron in Los Angeles and to speak at the San Diego Bird Festival. Thus in keeping with my preferred practice of taking along a book or two with relevance to my destination, I’m planning to pack copies of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of California by Alvaro Jaramillo and the recently published third edition of Insects of the L.A. Basin by Charles L. Hogue and James N. Hogue in my shoulder bag.
The Well-equipped Naturalist
For as long as I’ve ventured afield in search of whatever nature might wish to show me, I’ve gone fully vested. That is to say, I’ve worn a field vest. Not that I have anything against day packs or shoulder bags, mind you; I just find that vests (or as my British friends call them, waistcoats) allow me to carry what I need in a way that allows me easy access to all of it while still letting me move about with a feeling of being unencumbered.
Darrin Lunde does such a superb job of presenting his new book The Naturalist; Theodore Roosevelt, a Lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American Natural History in this recent podcast from the American Museum of Natural History that I scarcely think there’s any more I could write in a review that wold make you even more […]
Recently, when I downloaded the latest Quirks & Quarks podcast, to my great delight I learned that Dr. Roland Kays was to be discussing his work with camera traps as well as his recently published book on the subject “Candid Creatures; How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature” from Johns Hopkins University Press.