Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

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Dream of a Field Cricket

For an insect that spends almost all of its time underground, the Field Cricket has an elusive charisma, on account of its evocative 'song'. A unique event will celebrate this miniature sound-maker... Field Cricket (Gryllus campestris), female nymph. Sussex, UK. April. Photographed under license on white backround in the field.   In what is almost...

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Pasqueflowers

Legend has it that the Pasqueflower comes into bloom on Good Friday. Now these highly specialised plants and many other calcareous grassland species need our help if they are to rise again each year… Lying against the south-facing hillside with a mellow wind on my face, I’m supported by ninety metres of chalk. In the...

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Looking back at our model-making workshop…

Chris' sculptural workshops took place last week at a local school in Thetford which sits within the Brecklands area - home to our Shifting Sands project... So that was fun, hectic and very productive!   The sessions at the school went really well and the young students were brilliant, very patient and persevered with tricky...

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Preparations of a Sculptor

Given the microscopic scale of many of these Breckland species, and the difficulty in finding high-resolution images of them, it has me thinking about the thorny issue of the different ways in which we accurately record the natural world. Photography offers a so-called 'realistic' view of particular examples whilst traditional botanical illustrations present the most...

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Winter Stubble

On a frosty morning, in the strange “limbo” week between Christmas and New Year,  I extracted myself from the slumber of a cosy, over-stuffed and peaceful household and made the decision to blow away the cobwebs by taking a walk across my local chalk downs in Wiltshire. It’s a walk that’s renowned in the spring...

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The march of the Field Cricket

Having heard from Sir Sebastian Anstruther about the conservation of the UK’s only indigenous population of Field Crickets at Coates Common and Lord’s Piece on the Barlavington Estate in West Sussex, here is a blog from his neighbour, Ned Mersey, who manages the adjacent piece of land - Bignor Park. Through Back from the Brink...

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Gems of 2018

When I tried to pick out one thing to focus on from my volunteering experiences with Gems in the Dunes over the last year, I found it was an impossible task!  Looking back over all the talks, walks, training, habitat management and surveys I have been involved in, I decided to showcase my favourite Sefton...

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The journey of a Cabinet of Curiosity…

The Shifting Sands project is based within the ‘broken lands’ of western East Anglia, a mysterious and uncertain zone whose unique species are under increasing threat of extinction. Their subtle, modest beauty is reflected not in picturesque rolling vistas but in the minutiae of small-scale, ground level life. I shall be exploring these wondrous plants...

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An Industrious Bird in a Post-Industrial Land

In the heart of a post-industrial landscape, a burnt-out car lies abandoned. A mixture of young deciduous trees cling to the side of a disused colliery railway embankment. Thick bramble, elder and hawthorn intertwine a mosaic of dense vegetation. This habitat doesn’t scream ‘rich wildlife haven’ but in the North of England, for one of...

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Breckland wildflowers…

Since the middle of last year I’ve been volunteering with Natural England on the Shifting Sands project. During the few months I have been doing my work experience, David (the Keystone Species officer) has been a fantastic (and patient) teacher of flora. My pleasure at correctly identifying plants I previously didn’t know is great; so...

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