Nature Writing

By Richard Carter | Nature · Place · Writers ·

A harebell grapples with a freeloading furrow bee

Daddry Shield, Weardale The architecture of the flower choreographs the insects’ movements, making pollination likely<p>The footpath to St John’s Chapel, through hay meadows long since cut, follows the south bank of the Wear. Today the water was shallow and clear. But after heavy rain in the upper …


The Invitation

‘The effort to know a place deeply is, ultimately, an expression of the human desire to belong, to fit somewhere.’The post The Invitation appeared …

Great Books

Hairsprayed cattle and sheep on parade

Kennards House, Cornwall At the agricultural show white-coated exhibitors vie for prizes as the heavy horses are hitched and cocks crow in the poultry tent<p>After noting the whereabouts of their parked cars relative to the windblown hedgerow trees, visitors converge on the entrance to Launceston’s …


Sci-fi nightmares play out beneath the flowers

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk Brilliantly coloured jewel wasps use the living bodies of other insects to nourish their larvae<p>Much of the basic storybook that supplies the raw materials for horror films and novels seems to me to be derived from entomology. And here, at this place of autumn purple and gold, …


Movie star otters and pipe-smoking bears: the fabulous animal films of David Cobham

The man who filmed Tarka the Otter has a new creature to save. David Cobham talks about the soaring life and tragic death of a hen harrier named after Bet Lynch – and relives his tussle with a runaway bear<p>Flap, flap, flap, flap – glide. There’s a moment reading Bowland Beth when suddenly you’re …

Film (UK)

Spare a thought for the curlew's sinister, self-effacing cousin

Rye Harbour, East Sussex The omens are bad for the whimbrel, a summer visitor that has all but disappeared from the estuary<p>Only a few years ago, they used to stage whimbrel walks at Rye Harbour nature reserve. In late summer, these birds, which look like small dark curlew, would stream from estuary …


Warm colours on the down: Guardian country diary 100 years ago

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 18 August 1917<p><b>From a Southern County, 16 August</b><br>A wind which sets thistle-down flying across the lane shakes the wheat sheaves lightly; you can hear ever so slight a singing as it searches between the stooks and in the hollow of the straws. On this …


‘Herefordshire is just as lovely as the Dordogne’

For author John Lewis-Stempel, winner of the Wainwright prize for nature writing, the county is heaven on Earth<p><b>Herefordshire is one of England’s most rural places.</b> Cradled by Worcestershire against the wall of Wales, it is the last of England. My family have lived here for 800 years.<p><b>The west of the</b> …


How a Tree and Its Moth Shaped the Mojave Desert

The partnership between the Joshua tree and the yucca moth may be key to understanding how plants and insects co-evolve


Badger vaccination restarts one year on

Release date: Thu, 06/07/2017 (All day)Main image: Summary: Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has defied the odds to resume badger vaccination one year after …


So what if we’re doomed?

Climate chaos, mass extinction, the collapse of civilization: A guide to facing the ecocide.


In pictures: 2017 Galapagos photography competition

The winners have been announced for a photography competition capturing wildlife and scenery from across the Galapagos Islands.<p><b>All images are subject to copyright.</b>


100 best nonfiction books: No 80 - The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne by Gilbert White (1789)

This curate’s beautiful and lucid observations on the wildlife of a Hampshire village inspired generations of naturalists<p>The Rev Gilbert White was that now extinct species, the unmarried Oxbridge don in holy orders. A lifelong curate and a fellow of Oriel College, White devoted himself to observing …


An Animated Look at Vladimir Nabokov’s Passion for Butterfly Collecting: “Literature & Butterflies Are the Two Sweetest Passions Known to Man”

<i>Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man. - Vladimir Nabokov</i><p>A 1941 family road trip along Route 66 planted the seeds for …

Vladimir Nabokov

Linescapes by Hugh Warwick review – a manifesto for reuniting with nature

A good-humoured, hedgehog’s-eye view of the country’s ditches, dykes and railways<p>There is a venerable tradition of literature about the lines humans have created in the British landscape. Alfred Watkins’s <i>The Old Straight Track</i>, Francis Hitching’s <i>Earth Magic</i>, Robert Macfarlane’s <i>The Old Ways</i> and a …



<b>Mat Bingham</b> and his collie puppy spend the first half of the year getting to know the birds living in their garden:It’s early January, there is a …


Who's the brightest spark out there? It has to be the glow-worm

Havant Thicket, Hampshire The beetle’s astonishingly efficient process means 98% of the energy linked to the chemical reaction is emitted as light<p>It was just before 10pm when I spotted the first vivid green spark in the understorey – a female common glow-worm. She had climbed a tall blade of grass …


Century-old museum specimens reveal when deadly bird disease came to Galápagos Islands | @GrrlScientist

<i>Old specimens in museum collections are invaluable sources of material for molecular forensics research, providing glimpses into the history and</i> …


As the skylarks fall silent, an ultrasonic din begins

Sandy, Bedfordshire As the birdsongs of day fade out, the bat detector stirs into unheard action<p>The sun had risen over fields of oats and gone down on a prairie of stubble, yet still the skylarks sang. Though the world beneath their wings had been transformed, they continued exulting or lamenting …


How Fly Guts Are Helping Researchers Catalog the Rainforest

These tiny, buzzing lab assistants provide scientists with a treasure trove of conservation data


Purple streaks of thistles garnish the sodden fields

Wenlock Edge Rain hardens summer’s lushness and the vivid knapweed seems loaded with the uncanniness of the season<p>On the windmill meadow, above a green rind of grasses and below their fidgety seedheads in the rain is the dotty purpling of knapweed.<p>The jet stream divides August in Europe. As the …


Annie Dillard's Classic Essay: 'Total Eclipse'

“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.”<p><i>Ever since it was first published in 1982, readers—including this one—have thrilled to “Total Eclipse,” Annie Dillard’s masterpiece of literary nonfiction, which describes her personal</i> …

Total Eclipse

nicola chester

<i>The Long Twilight.</i><p>The domed hill is shedding chalk rivers of rain. Chains of bubbles slide past either side of the raised camber, as if there were …


Sandpipers are already on their way south

Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex The sun is slowly dropping towards the horizon and the air is cooling. The sandpipers are still feeding, making the most of this important stopover site on their route<p>Ripples flow across the golden grass as the stems bend back and forth in the breeze. A pair of common …


Revealed: the insidious creep of pseudo-public space in London

Pseudo-public space – squares and parks that seem public but are actually owned by corporations – has quietly spread across cities worldwide. As the Guardian maps its full extent in London for the first time, Jack Shenker reports on a new culture of secrecy and control, where private security …


For my eyes only – baring all on a Pennine ramble

Dark Peak, Derbyshire Even avowed outdoor evangelists should be allowed to keep one or two places to themselves<p>I am not going to tell you where I am writing about. It is one of those places of personal sanctity that has, miraculously, escaped the popular attention I am fully aware it deserves. Even …


A Blueprint for Genetically Engineering a Super Coral

Why some researchers are proposing a drastic measure to save a threatened ecosystem


Drunk bees incapable of flying: Guardian country diary 100 years ago

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 7 August 1917<p>Almost every year I reply, early in August, to correspondents who, like the writer from Patterdale, have noticed dead and mutilated bees lying beneath the lime trees. Evelyn speaks of the lime, with “sweet blossoms, the delight of …


The joy of the familiar—and the unfamiliar—on a local patch

Getting to know a place well means knowing what to look forward to, and appreciating when something unusual happens.<br>Article source: …