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
  Life comes cheap for winter wrens
A winter wren looks from the hedge towards the solstice as if it's the weight which holds the scales this side of an axis between one year and another. It looks from wren-shadow into wren-land: an old geography steeped in omen and augury. Who comes, who goes, wren knows. Moss is stiff as an old mattress with frost. Chaffinch and siskin blow from hedge-tops into fields of open soil routed by tines and tyres, each rut running with water so the rolling land looks like woodcuts. The ooze and slop of mud seeps each time the frost gives. Brooks are ardent, their songs stronger, banks scoured back under red root tassels of alder, and streambeds a yellow dawn-grey as if each pebble has been picked out, wiped clean and put back.

When it rained, cold and hard, buzzards looked like glove puppets stuffed up trees. Now a red kite lifts over treetops into a half blue, half grey sky above a pasture with sheep. Free from jackdaw mobs, the kite keeps a slow tack, scanning for carrion. It barely moves its wings but for a twitching balance like a tightrope walker's pole. The wren shifts in its shadow and whistles quietly for the hungry times. "We'll shoot the Cutty Wren, said John the Red Nose." In this song, the wren is cut up with knives and forks and its spare ribs given to the poor. The Cutty Wren song is said to come from the Peasants' Revolt in 1381 when the starving poor resorted to eating small birds: the wren is symbolic of the king.

Restless cave-dwellers of hedge hole and mossy stone, wrens will die. Despite their powerful presence, winter will crush many of them. Although they're our most common breeding bird, hundreds die every day from what we have done to wren-world. This one watches, a peppercorn eye framed by a white stripe for quick seeing. Years come and go, the wren knows. The thrum of its wings, the cock of its tail, the voice now prayerful will turn into a torrent if it survives to tip the solstice balance.
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
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
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