Wildlife & Nature
I am a freelance journalist specialising in nature, wildlife, gardening, travel and environmental issues. I am also the communications coordinator for The Tree Council, the UK's leading charity for trees in any setting.
Wildlife & Nature
This autumn, I led a group of neighbours on a walk around our local park. It wasn’t your bog-standard autumnal tree walk. Instead of simply admiring the seasonal display, we stopped to gather seeds from the native trees - oak, hawthorn, beech, lime, field maple, hornbeam - with the idea of growing them into baby trees at home.
Not so very long ago, roaming through the woods, climbing trees, building dens and generally having a wild time would have been considered part and parcel of a normal, healthy childhood. But within a matter of decades, the wild child has become a critically endangered species.
Once upon a time, much of Britain was covered by the wildwood. Amongst the rich diversity of trees and shrubs, arboreal species thrived, including the pine marten ( martes martes ), which arrived in the country after the last ice age.
It's a curious paradox that those of us living in urban and suburban parts of the UK often rub shoulders more closely with wildlife than country folk do. But how did these animals end up in such incongruous living conditions, how do they survive and do humans and wildlife always make good neighbours?
Those were the wise words of American writer and environmentalist Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) who truly understood the significance of conserving this most beautiful and powerful of species, the tiger (Panthera tigris). There is only one species of tiger but it is divided up into nine geographically distinct groups known as subspecies.
Something strange is happening to Britain's oldest tree: it appears to be changing sex. Reputed to be 5,000 years old, the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland, has awed visitors for centuries due to its immense age. Now, the ancient tree, which could be the oldest in the UK, is causing more wonder by apparently undergoing a sex change.
Every evening, in almost every major park in London, ring-necked or rose-ringed parakeets ( Psittacula krameri) can be seen (and heard) roosting in their hundreds and thousands. But how have these tropical interlopers managed to adapt so well to our mild climate and what threat do they pose to our beloved native birds?
Rewilding Britain , a new charity, spearheaded by environmentalist George Monbiot, launched in 2015-its objective to 'make Britain a wilder place'. We take a look what rewilding could mean for Britain's uplands and ask if it presents an impossibly romantic vision or a genuine opportunity for people to reconnect with nature, for the benefit of both.
The UK's ash trees may have been thrown a lifeline thanks to the breakthrough discovery of an ash tree showing strong tolerance to the devastating fungal disease, ash dieback. A team of researchers led by the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norfolk identified the ash tree, which has been nicknamed 'Betty', by screening leaf samples against a set of genetic markers.
Once dismissed as a scientific anomaly, a growing body of research suggests that homosexual behaviour is surprisingly common throughout the natural world. According to Petter Bøckman, Zoologist and Lecturer at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, 'homosexual behaviour has been observed in over 1,500 species' and the list includes 'lions, wolves, deer, seagulls, elephants, monkeys, dolphins, a couple of frog species, some fish, a few insects and an octopus'.
For her first solo walk, Charlotte Rixon escaped London for a day hike in the Forest of Dean. Here she tells us how she tackled a landslip, a Loop, and a little leap. One sweltering Saturday in July I slipped out of London and escaped into a forest.
Biofluorescence-the ability to emit luminescent neon colours-has been observed in a sea turtle for the first time. Marine biologist David Gruber and his team from City University of New York encountered the Glowing Hawksbill sea turtle ( Eretmochelys imbricata) while diving under a full moon one night off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Wild birds rarely die from drowning, and when they do, it's usually an isolated incident. Yet, over the years, there have been several mysterious accounts of groups of common starlings ( Sturnus vulgaris) found floating in garden ponds in apparent mass drownings.
A dramatic encounter between a young weasel and a curious swan has been captured on camera by an amateur photographer at a nature reserve in Scotland. RSPB volunteer Billy Blair snapped the unlikely duo as they came face-to-face in front of a crowd of astounded onlookers at the wildlife charity's Lochwinnoch reserve in Scotland's west central lowlands.
The U.S. Navy has agreed to restrict its use of sonar and explosives off the coasts of Southern California and Hawaii in a landmark settlement that will protect whales and dolphins from the harmful effects of ocean noise.
The Tree Council is helping to reconnect town and city dwellers to the natural environment while introducing them to the joys of urban food forestry through an exciting new initiative called ‘Wild Hedges for Urban Edges’.
Andean cats-one of the world's most elusive felines-have been captured on camera at a nature reserve in Chile for the first time. Close-up footage of a female Andean cat ( Leopardus Jacobita) and her cub was taken using motion-sensor camera traps in Los Flamencos National Reserve by researchers from National Corporation Forestal (CONAF), working in partnership with the Andean Cat Alliance (AGA).
A deadly fungus that has been decimating amphibians worldwide for decades has been eradicated from an island population of wild toads, thanks to a breakthrough study. Chytridiomycosis-the infection caused by the chytrid fungus-is considered by the IUCN to be the worst disease to affect vertebrates in recorded history, in terms of the number of species impacted and the speed of their demise.
Conservationists in Australia are serving up nauseating sausages to a population of northern quolls, in a novel attempt to educate the endangered marsupials about the perils of eating cane toads. Northern quolls ( Dasyurus hallucatus) are small, spotted, carnivorous marsupials native to Australia, which are in danger of being wiped out due, amongst other factors, to their fondness for cane toads-an invasive species, which exudes a deadly toxin when eaten.
Marine biologists have found a rare deepwater shark off the coast of Scotland, which they have nicknamed a 'sofa shark' due to its 'saggy, chilled out' appearance. Dr Francis Neat and his team from Marine Scotland were undertaking a routine fish population survey around the remote islands of Barra and St Kilda when the bizarre looking creature from the deep flopped out of their net and onto the deck.
They can be more beautiful than butterflies and just as important to our biodiversity. We should love moths, says Charlotte Rigby
Seahorses could become extinct within three decades if action is not taken to stop the sale of dead marine life as curiosities, conservationists have warned. Undercover research by the international charity, Save Our Seahorses, has revealed that 150 million seahorses are killed worldwide every year for the seaside curio trade and for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
A new species of monkey has been discovered living in a remote stretch of the Peruvian Amazon and, unlike other recent primate discoveries, it is not facing extinction. Researchers from the international NGO Proyecto Mono Tocón encountered the previously unknown species of titi monkey during an expedition down the Urubamba River in Central Peru.
Bats have been voted the UK's third least favourite mammal after rats and mice in a recent survey, with one in five respondents claiming to dislike or hate them. Women, young adults and people living in London or the North East are the most likely to have an aversion to bats, according to the OnePoll survey of 1,000 adults.
It's Red Squirrel Week and The Wildlife Trusts are encouraging people in certain parts of the UK to keep an eye out for signs of these much-loved but critically endangered creatures. Autumn is the perfect season to spot red squirrels, as they spend their time foraging for nuts to cache in their winter larder.
A small population of pine martens has been discovered living in Shropshire, after being thought extinct in England for a century. The first sighting of a pine marten in 100 years was confirmed in July, when amateur photographer and wildlife recorder, Dave Pearce, captured the elusive mammal on camera and sent the photos to Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Over 30,000 gardeners have pledged to help Britain's dwindling hedgehog population by cutting holes in their garden fences, as part of the 'Hedgehog Street' initiative. British hedgehogs have fallen by a third over the last 10 years, making them as critically endangered as tigers.
Every schoolchild knows that lions roar, hyenas laugh and elephants trumpet, but they may be hard pressed to identify the signature sound of giraffes. This could soon change however, thanks to a remarkable new discovery by Austrian biologists. Apparently, giraffes hum to each other-but only after dark.
Glenn, Della and John Bealey from Week Farm near Great Torrington have been awarded first prize in the Devon Hedge Tree Competition. The competition, which is designed to promote the importance of hedgerows and hedge trees, was held by the Devon Hedge Group and sponsored by The Tree Council, together with The Woodland Trust and local tree nursery, Perrie Hale Nursery.
Nearly 100 of Britain's precious ancient woods could be lost or damaged during the construction of the first phase of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail line, the Woodland Trust has warned. Research by the charity has revealed that a total of 97 ancient woodlands lie in the path of the proposed HS2 line, which will connect London to the Midlands.
New research has shed light on the mystery of 'crow funerals' in which crows gather in large numbers to seemingly mourn their dead; it appears that the birds are learning about danger from the fate of their less fortunate brethren.
David Bevan didn't fully realise is passion for plants until he was 40 years old. Now aged 75, he has devoted the last 35 years of his life to studying botany, caring for local green spaces and inspiring a love for nature in others.
A community forest in the Scottish Highlands is aiming to raise £5,500 to reforest a storm damaged area through an innovative crowdfunding campaign. For £20 each, members of the public can 'Sponsor a Sapling' at Kilfinan Community Forest in Tighnabruaich, Argyll, part of which was destroyed in the heavy storms of winter 2013.
Internationally renowned wildlife photographer David Cottridge has travelled the world, photographed most of Europe's bird species and worked with the likes of Bill Oddie, Nick Baker and Chris Packham. He tells Conservation Careers Blogger Charlotte Rixon why wildlife photography matters and how to follow in his footsteps.
In Nepal in 2001, Scott Mason invented parahawking-an internationally acclaimed concept that combines falconry with paragliding to offer a unique adventure with an important conservation message. In 2005 he made the award-winning film, Flight for Survival, to draw attention to the plight of Asia's vultures-seriously endangered birds that are vital to the ecosystem but have an undeserved bad reputation.
As a devotee of amateur nature recording with a passion for trees and woods, it's fair to say that Citizen Science Manager for the Woodland Trust, Dr Kate Lewthwaite, is in her dream job.
In the first of a series of interviews with Tree Wardens from around the UK, we speak with Dick Walters, Eastleigh Tree Warden, Druid and volunteer coordinator for the Eastleigh Tree Partnership, about how a single event set him off on a 26-year journey into the heart of trees.
Butterfly Conservation Survey Officer Zoë Randle talks to Conservation Careers Blogger Charlotte Rixon about why moths and butterflies matter, meeting Sir David Attenborough and dispelling those jumper-munching myths.
This year, the UK’s biggest annual celebration of trees had the theme of Changing Views to encourage everyone to not only think about how they could change views of the landscape by planting trees, but also to change views about the value of trees in our lives.
As National Tree Week – the UK’s biggest annual festival of trees – approaches, The Tree Council is encouraging everyone to consider how they can change views for the better by planting and celebrating trees.
Birds are singing, trees are coming into blossom and the bluebells are out: it’s the perfect time of year for a walk in the woods.
As Britain recovers from the recent heavy rainstorms, The Tree Council is urging everyone to spare a thought for young trees battling against the elements and take part in its annual Tree Care Campaign.
The strength and wellbeing of urban and rural communities alike is rooted in its trees. Strong healthy trees are a mark of a strong healthy community, and to continue to grow strong together, it's essential for communities to keep on planting trees.
A strong community, just like a healthy tree, starts with solid roots. So, what better way for a community to look back to its roots, and put down fresh ones, than by coming together to grow more trees from seed?
If you're using social media in your quest for a job in conservation, don't overlook the power of Twitter. Conservation Careers Blogger Charlotte Rixon suggests the following seven steps to unlock its potential.
You may recycle, grow you own veg and knit all your clothes, but are you really prepared to forego your summer holiday? It is an unfortunate truth for those of us who want to save the planet and see it before we die, that air travel leaves just about the biggest carbon footprint of anything we do.
Wonderful! All over the world wild animals and landscapes are in trouble and desperately need inspirational, motivated and caring people like you to stick up for them. The bad news is that competition for wildlife jobs is incredibly fierce.
Have you ever wondered if you could be a wildlife journalist but not known where to begin? Conservation Careers Blogger, Charlotte Rixon, shares the wisdom of six successful but very different nature writers. Just like a perfectly captured wildlife photograph, a beautifully crafted piece of nature writing can be thrilling to create or behold.
Animal advocates in around 100 countries are taking part in over a 1,000 events today in celebration of World Animal Day (WAD)-the global initiative to make the world a better place for animals.
The word poaching normally conjures up images of trophy hunters stalking lions in Africa or the illegal trade in elephant ivory and tiger skins. But what many people don't realise is that poaching-the illegal shooting, trapping or capturing of wild or semi-wild animals-also takes place on British soil.
Not so long ago, the only contact children in Britain had with reindeer was finding a nibbled carrot on the fireplace beside Santa's half eaten mince pie on Christmas morning. Nowadays, they can see Rudolf in the flesh at one of numerous festive events taking place in town centres around the country and even feed him that carrot from their own hands.
Cat lover and black feline fan Charlotte Rixon can’t believe black cats get ignored at rehoming centres and urges anyone thinking of adopting a moggie to give a black cat a chance
Mountain rescue dogs in the Lake District have been vaccinated against the tick-borne illness, Lyme disease, following research showing that ticks are becoming increasingly widespread. Thanks to the support of Merial Animal Health, each of the 25 dogs deployed by the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs Association (LDMRSDA) has received the vaccine to protect them as they go about their life-saving work in tick endemic areas.
Each year some 16,000 injured, sick or orphaned wild animals pass through the doors of the RSPCA's four wildlife hospitals, while hundreds of thousands more receive care at other wildlife centres throughout the UK. All kinds of creatures can find themselves in need of rescue, but according to Llewelyn Lowen, RSPCA Wildlife Scientific Officer, certain species are more vulnerable than others.
Defra has calculated the cost of the controversial 2013 badger cull at £6.3 million but failed to include an extra £3.5 million spent on policing the operation, say wildlife charities. Government data leaked to the Daily Telegraph revealed that a total of 1,879 badgers were slain during last year's cull at a cost of £3,000 per animal.
When our cat was tragically bereaved we were faced with a tough decision: would a new companion makes things better or worse? By Charlotte Rixon
Two young chimpanzees from Ebola-hit Liberia have been denied sanctuary at a Kenyan wildlife reserve, despite the fact that they have shown no signs of infection with the deadly virus. The two-year-old female chimps, Sweet Pea and Guey, were rescued from animal traffickers by conservation group, the Project to End Great Ape Slavery (PEGAS), in April.