Going, going…

Time is running short to order signed copies of Remarkable Birds  – the ideal Christmas present for so many people!  Stocks are getting lower all the time and I won’t be able to order more copies from the publisher and then get them to you before Christmas when current stocks run out. 

So, if you are interested in buying a signed copy of Remarkable Birds for yourself or friends or colleagues, at a bargain £19.99, then contact me now on mark@markavery.info .

See Stephen Moss’s review of nature books of 2018 (published on this blog on Wednesday) and see my top-4 selections published on this blog on Thursday.



Tim Melling – Red Panda

Tim writes: I have just returned from a trip to Sichuan in China where I managed to photograph this wild Red Panda crossing a track between bamboo thickets.  They live in high altitude forests (2000-3000m) where they feed mainly on bamboo.  In autumn they venture out of the bamboo thickets to feed on rosehips.  I have seen quite a few feeding in trees but this was the first one I have seen in the open, on the ground.

Because they have eye-patches, eat bamboo and live in the same areas, they were thought to be related to Giant Pandas but DNA has settled the issue.  They are not bears, but are in a family all by themselves (Ailuridae) but that falls within the super family Musteloidae which includes Weasels, Otters, Skunks and Raccoons.

Incidentally, this is the eastern race Ailurus fulgens styani which is found in China and northern Burma.  It is distinguished from the nominate race from Nepal and Bhutan  by its thicker, blacker body fur.  Eastern animals are more uniformly red.   The Red Panda has been classified as endangered by IUCN since 2008 because there are fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and the population is decreasing. The scientific name translates as shining (or flashing) cat, and styani commemorates Frederick William Styan, a 19th Century sea trader and wildlife collector who worked in China for 27 years.


Saturday cartoon by Ralph Underhill


Peter Melchett remembered

I attended a lovely memorial event for Peter Melchett this morning after two days in the Royal Courts of Justice battling against Natural England’s brood meddling licensing decision (a third day is needed – we don’t know when that will be yet (see short account in today’s Times, page 23)).

I learned some new things about Peter, remembered some fogotten things and was reminded of some other memories.  His chuckle was mentioned a lot.  His campaigning acumen was mentioned a lot too. And his love for his family was highlighted.

I felt, and feel, privileged to have known Peter and to have regarded him as a friend and a mentor.

See here for what others said of him.


Not finished yet.

Our judicial review of brood meddling needs a third day. We don’t yet know when that day might be. More information when I have more information.