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Ecology and Life
The puppy room easing life's pain in a stroke
Gentle wobblings of a 'foul gull' fulmar
Frigatebird returns to nest on Ascension for first time since Darwin
New to Nature No 94: Canthigaster criobe
Uggie: 'He likes to fly first class'
It's a dog's life in China: sold for £1m or stolen and sold as meat
Malibu residents hire crew to remove rotting whale carcass from beach
Yellowstone's popular alpha female wolf shot dead by hunters outside park
What I miss most in the dead time of winter is the insects
BSE testing on cattle slaughtered for food 'no longer necessary'
Malaysia seizes 1,500 elephant tusks headed for China
The vibrant river was a welcome relief after the bleak, snow-covered fields
TV Review: Miniature Britain; Weight Loss Ward; Rome
Marine conservation group says UK lacks ambition to preserve seas
UK seas to gain 31 marine conservation zones
Live animal exports going via previously unknown routes
When a dozing otter steals the show
Newly discovered slow loris species already threatened
What the male bowerbird can teach us about home furnishings
Could this really be the fearsome, legendary Girt Dog reincarnate?
Overfishing is a solvable environmental challenge for the EU
Life comes cheap for winter wrens
Ash trees consumed by something of the night
Foie gras taken off menu in House of Lords
  A perfect winter's day for a walk
It's a perfect winter's day for a walk. Though the early morning frost has melted, a faint dusting of snow still remains on the summits of the three highest hills. The sky, brilliantly blue directly overhead, fades gently to a milkier hue where it meets the curve of the horizon. There is a freshness in the air, a chill that suggests it could become a biting cold should there be anything but this morning's slightest of breezes, and yet there is also just a suggestion of warmth in the winter sun.

From the mirror-bright loch a pair of whooper swans, winter visitors from the far north, take flight. They struggle for lift, wings beating powerfully, their great webbed feet striking the water's surface, each contact creating a brief sunlit splash. Gaining the air at last, they fly past at barely more than head height, the sound of their wing beats clearly audible in the stillness of the day. Their flight lasts only a short distance before they make a long curving descent to the next loch where they join another group of whooper swans and from where the arrival of the newcomers is announced by a babble of musical bugling.

Far less musical is the sound somewhere in the distance of an approaching Land Rover. The cattle on the machair look up from their grazing and one lets out a mighty bellow. As the vehicle draws closer, more and more add their voices and then the whole blaring mass of animals begins a purposeful stroll to meet it in anticipation of a fresh delivery of silage. And it seems their anticipation is justified for the Land Rover turns off the main track and bounces across the machair towards the shiny black wrapped bales, only to pass through a gate and head onwards towards a flock of sheep, leaving the cattle staring disconsolately after it.

On this bright morning the path to the sea crosses a landscape alive with birds. Not far from where the cattle are grazing, a mixed flock of lapwing and golden plover are scattered about the margins of the shallow winter flood pools. A redshank takes off from the water's edge alarm calling loudly. Among the remains of the corn stubble almost a hundred rock doves are foraging industriously. Chattering starlings line the fence wires, a twittering flock of twite are in constant motion and skeins of noisy geese pass overhead. In the distance a flock of waders, disturbed perhaps by the presence of a peregrine, swirls into the air. And from behind the ridge of the dunes where a single buzzard sits motionless atop a fence post comes the beckoning call of the sea, a ceaseless soft whispering against which on this quiet morning can be heard the breaking of individual waves.
New to Nature No 96: Oncopodura fadriquei
Animal rights activists plan direct action against beagle imports
How the stink of a waterbuck could prevent sleeping sickness in Kenya
Tatler's dog, Alan, dies in bizarre revolving door accident
Insecticide 'unacceptable' danger to bees, report finds
Freedom Foods 'failing to crack down' on poor salmon farming standards
One in 10 Welsh livestock farmers illegally kill badgers, study suggests
Crab study puts pain on the menu
A large shape a bittern flies across the pond
Wolf killings are based on the most cynical of premises
New to nature No 97: Ferrisia uzinuri
Sad to see the tide turn against the otter
An owl swoops down on wings that seem as broad as they are long
Animals: are they good for supper or good companions?
Is human branding an animal-rights stunt too far?
Cat lovers pounce on campaign to save New Zealand's birds
Common pesticides 'can kill frogs within an hour'
There is something irresistibly cheerful about a flock of twite
Solomon Islands villagers kill 900 dolphins in conservation dispute
Mistle thrush numbers in decline
Guyana pledges to protect jaguars
Dung beetles navigate by the stars
How do you catch an escaped crocodile?
New to Nature No 98: Xerophytacolus claviverpus
Animal astronauts: the unsung heroes of space exploration
Pygmy elephants found dead in Borneo after 'poisoning'
A badger's biscuit-sized footprints in the snow follow the field edge
British moths in calamitous decline, major new study reveals
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The lake is muted under the winter sun, like a faint watercolour painting
Should the RSPCA have pursued the man who ate a live goldfish?
Days of heavy rain have left the ancient woodland sodden
Alice Roberts: Rudolph and our early ancestors a love story
Saving the rhino with surveillance drones
Hunting with dogs ban unlikely to get free vote admit top Tories
The tracks in the snow revealed the secrets of these night visitors
A perfect winter's day for a walk
Meet the woman battling Japan's whaling fleet in Antarctic ocean
China captivated by tiny tuneful insects that sing for their supper
HBO sued by animal rights worker over abuse of horses on Luck
Some surprising facts about hedgehogs
Cats killed in cattery fire
Experience: my horse sank in quicksand
Alys Fowler: fat balls and mealworms
Hawks in danger of extinction in illegal hunting campaign
What the Japanese red bug teaches us about parenting
Fishermen back sanctions against Iceland over mackerel catch
What I learned the day a dying whale spared my life
Overfishing causes Pacific bluefin tuna numbers to drop 96%
Glistening with water droplets, the black-throated diver looked almost eerie
Kitten swallows 15cm-long TV aerial
As the rain blows over, a double rainbow arcs across the sky
A moorhen sent stone-skimmer splashes as it pattered across the river