Enjoying the Durrells

The Durrells is good TV, isn’t it? Easy to watch, funny, feel-good, with beautiful settings and good actors.

I heard it’s not really much like the actual family at all but that’s ok because the TV show has taken on a new life. I’ve been reading a bit about the Durrell Foundation as well, which Gerald set up on the island of Jersey in the 1960s: it aimed to protect endangered species from extinction, recognising the worrying rate at which wild species were dying out in their habitats. It was the first time a zoo took on a significant conservation role.

Some of the species that the foundation focus on can be found here and include the black lion tamarin and the pygmy hog.

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Wildlife in Churchyards

I loathe a tidy churchyard. I hate to see their freshly mown grass and neatly trimmed edges. Give me unkempt, wild and natural graveyards any day.

Churchyards can often be ancient grassland habitats, providing havens for over 100 species of wildflowers, millions of insects, as well as birds and mammals. Bats can still be found in the belfries managed by wildlife-friendly churchyard keepers (sorry, who manages these sites? Does the parish have a gardener? Or does the priest gets his hoe out when he’s not delivering mass?)

The Wildlife Trusts run a Churchyard Conservation Scheme across many of it’s organisations, which aims to support churches to manage their outside space in a wildlife-friendly manner to promote biodiversity and provide vital corridors between habitats in the countryside.

What makes ancient churchyards such great resources for wildlife is that they have escaped the plague of modern pesticides and chemicals that have damaged other parts of the countryside. Lichen love to colonize gravestones, and ferns adore damp church walls, so it’s not just the grassland but also the church buildings themselves that provide homes to plant and insect life.

A secular charity called ‘Caring for God’s Acre‘ launched recently to preserve wildlife in the UK’s 20,000 churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds. It focuses on the following 6 flagship species:

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Yew trees

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Waxcap fungi

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Bumblebees

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Slow worms

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Swifts

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Hedgehogs

Have you visited any wildlife-rich churchyards recently? I’ll be sharing a few in the followings month of those that I’ve visited in Norfolk.

Fox hunting – still protesting this shit

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2 years ago I wrote THIS blog post about Tory attempts to repeal the Hunting Act and I can’t believe we’re STILL having this argument and I’m STILL having to protest this shit.

It’s illegal. Give it up. Find another hobby. One that doesn’t involve foxes being torn apart and hunting dogs being mistreated and destroyed.

 

Casual cycling

It has been years since I’ve ridden a bike and, wanting to have an alternative to getting around when my car is out of action or I just fancy being in the open air, I decided to a get a bike.

Reader, I bought a girly bike. A vintage bike. A pretty bike.

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Accidental fisheye lens.

I won’t pretend to be some kind of fitness expert or serious cyclist in lycra. I just want to ride a bike into town sometimes or take a trip along the local countryside cycle path on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Today I managed 6 miles! My thighs ache and I will have to spend the rest of the day recovering. But it was worth it because it was enjoyable and easy-going along the cycle path by the river.

It’s a Pendleton Somerby, in case you’re wondering. I’ve since bought a wicker basket to go with it. Just needs a baguette.

Binoculars I rely on

Finding the right pair of binoculars for a fussy consumer like me is a time consuming business, one I don’t care to repeat again. Luckily, I got an excellent pair for my birthday this year, and so far they have been so reliable and handy for birding.

The Eyeskey Binoculars *** are waterproof, lightweight, and offer very clear vision at 10x magnification.  The reviews are very good for mid-range binoculars so if you’re on a budget I definitely recommend. The depth of vision isn’t as great as other binoculars but for birding the magnification is really impressive.

Comfy adjustable straps ✓

Easy to remove lens caps 

Lightweight design 

Affordable price 

Good magnification 

Comfortable grip 


 

 

*** FYI this is an affiliate link to the Amazon listing of this book.

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May is always about the Bluebells

May Day Bank Holiday took us out to Blickling Hall in Norfolk (or Bono’s house, as Alan Partridge once famously claimed), where we witnessed the annual spectacle of the bluebells. I was expecting to be a bit disappointed – so much hype suggested to me that it would not be all that impressive a display after all.

Reader, I was impressed. Exhibit A (mixing metaphors much?)

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It was like venturing into faerie land.

(I think that’s just a labrador left of shot – not a deer, optical illusion, or some kind of Elfin Beast.)

Exhibit B

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And so on…

On the magic of bluebells

The British Isles are a stronghold for bluebells, boasting more than a quarter of the world’s population. They are perennial plants that grow annually to produce dazzling displays of carpets of bluebells and they are an indicator of an ancient woodland. It is a criminal offence to remove common bluebell bulbs as it is a protected species. They also produce certain alkaloids that are similar to compounds used the treatments for HIV and cancer, and they are used in folk medicine as a diuretic.

Non-native threat

The Spanish bluebell has invaded and hybridized and threatens our native common bluebell. You can tell the difference between the common bluebell and the Spanish bluebell from a few distinctive features:

  • the common bluebell has a drooping stem
  • its flowers are narrow and bell-shaped
  • pollen is a creamy white
  • it has a scent

Did you know?

Bees sometimes bite a hole in the bottom of the bell of the flower to steal the nectar without pollinating the plant.

In the Bronze age, people used to use bluebell sap to set feathers on arrows.

 

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