Author Archives: Mark

About Mark

Born Bristol, UK Educated: Cleeve House School Bristol, Bristol Grammar School and Downing College Cambridge Ph.D. University of Aberdeen, Winter activity of pipistrelle bats. NERC post-doctoral Research Fellow, Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University Former Conservation Director of the RSPB, 1989-2011

Paul Leyland – Oil Beetle

Oil Beetles, also known as Blister Beetles, are named after their defence mechanism, which is a bright orange caustic substance that the creature secretes from its joints. This is highly irritable and can cause blisters on human skin. It is required to deter predators, as the beetle is flightless and slow moving. They are quite […]


If this were a rating on TripAdvisor or similar then this year’s RSPB AGM would score quite highly. It was a bit less slick than usual – whoever was working the images didn’t quite get them right all the time for example. But it was still an inspirational event – and the AGM itself is […]

Today in London

Today was a good day. Yellow-browed warbler.  Photo: Tim Melling I saw, but mostly heard, a Yellow-browed Warbler in London – one was calling loudly and often in the gardens at the back of the Athenaeum, Travellers and Reform Clubs and across the road from the Royal Society.  It took me a while to work […]

Tim Melling – Turtle Dove

Tim writes: the name has nothing to do with marine reptiles but is onomatopoeic, imitating the bird’s tuneful purring call.  The call is the way most birds are located as they often remain hidden among foliage in the tall hedgerows in which they often nest. They are generally associated with arable farmland as they feed […]

Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill