On the 7th September 2019, the birders of the West Midlands Region came together to compete once again in the All Day Bird Race. Here’s how I fared on my local patch.
A new season, a time for new opportunities and for the first time in 2019, the birders of the West Midlands came together to compete in the All Day Bird Race. Here’s how I got on.
Peaky Blinders is a hugely successful British gangster TV series. But how much of it is based on fact, and how much of it is fictitious? Read on to find out more.
The Third Test of the 2019 Ashes series between England and Australia will go down in history as one of the greatest Cricket matches of all time. Here’s how it all unfolded.
Another season of Premier League Football is upon us, and of course fans are eager to see how things will play out. Who win the title? Who will go down? Read on to find out more.
In 2020 a new Cricket league called The Hundred will launch in England that promises to revolutionise the game. But what is it exactly? Read on to find out more.
Cricket originated in England and is often regarded as the quintessential English sport, but the first-ever International match actually took place on the other side of the Atlantic.
Every two years, England and Australia clash for the famed Ashes. What are the best Ashes Tests of all time? Read on to find out.
This summer once again, England and Australia go head to head in what is arguably the biggest prize on offer in Cricket. But why all the fuss? This article will explain everything.
Cricket is England’s national sport and is hugely popular in other countries such as Australia and India. It can appear daunting to the newcomer, so here is a simple guide to the game.
Common Cranes are undergoing an extraordinary comeback in the UK. Once widespread, they were hunted to extinction, but a series of reintroductions mean they are re-establishing themselves. Still, I'd yet to see one in my home region, but that would soon change.
County boundaries have often been the subject of great change over time, but there are a special set of county boundaries that have remained fixed for over 150 years.
Britain, or Great Britain I should say is divided into 3 countries- England, Scotland and Wales. Each of these in turn, are divided into counties. Each one has its own unique identity and still play an important role in our lives today.
Spring is always the most exciting time for birders, and fresh from finding a pair of Garganey, I received news of arguably an even rarer species- a male Pied Flycatcher.
April Fools Day is notorious for throwing bogus or hoax sightings reports, but a pair of scarce ducks that I found in a small corner of Warwickshire were the real deal.
Birmingham City Football Club, also known as 'Blues', are an English footballing institution, but how much do you know about them? This article will highlight a few interesting and surprising facts about the team.
A relatively brief visit to the West Midlands Bird Club's excellent reserve at Ladywalk produced an unexpected but very welcome treat.
The following is a detailed account of a routine wander around my local patch. Along the way I'll reveal that not all highlights are rarity related.
Cannock Chase is undoubtedly the wildest part of the whole of the Midlands region and home to some truly wonderful birds, so the opportunity to take a trip on a free Monday could not be ignored.
Red-breasted Mergansers are a species of duck that are commonly found along Britain's coastlines, but whenever an individual is found far inland, they're always worth seeing.
Nestled away in a small corner of the City of Birmingham is a small relict of a once extensive natural woodland. This relict has huge cultural significance not just for the city but for the entire world.
Barely a month after my last trip to Lincolnshire, Paula and I made a return trip. Partly to revisit the beautiful Gibraltar Point and wonderful Frampton Marsh, but also, to try and see a Long-billed Dowitcher, a rare bird that I’d failed to see on two previous visits.
Black Redstarts were once a common sight in town and cities across the UK, but widespread regeneration has seen numbers dwindle. When a bird was reported just a few miles from home, I decided to take a look.
My first extended birding trip of the year, and the destination was a familiar one- a return trip to one of the best areas in the whole of Britain for birding- East Yorkshire.
Gulls may not be attractive birds to many, but there's truly something special about a rare eastern species appearing just a few miles away from Britain's second largest city.
Just a week after missing out on a valued life tick in Staffordshire, an opportunity arose once again to see a Lesser Scaup. Hopefully this time, my luck would be in.
Lincolnshire is one of the best areas of the UK for winter birding, given its flat landscape and large numbers of Waders and Wildfowl. Here is an account of a trip that I, and my girlfriend Paula took recently.
With the New Year less than two weeks old, an opportunity arose to catch a glimpse of a bird that always proves popular with birders, especially those of us who have never journeyed to North America.
New Years Day always brings with it the promise of new opportunities, and with the day barely 10 hours old, the opportunity of a first twitch of the year beckoned.
With 2018 drawing to a close, an opportunity arose to see a bird that should be spending its winter in the jungles of South-East Asia, rather than a small corner of Warwickshire.
For many the Christmas period is a time of festival fun. For me however, it provided a valuable opportunity to see a species that always causes a stir whenever its sighted far from the sea.
Birders love bits of kit, and no piece of kit is more valuable than a pair of binoculars. Here is the complete guide on how to choose the right pair and use them correctly.
Birding, like most things, begins at home. Watching your regular garden birds can be every bit as rewarding as chasing rarities. So, here's the complete guide on how to do it properly.
Nestled in the heart of South Warwickshire, Brandon Marsh is the headquarters of the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the temporary home of a small party of Bewicks (Tundra) Swans. Read on if you wish to find out if I was successful in finding them.
Twitching often divides opinions not only among the public but among birders themselves. It can offer though, some of the most memorable experiences you'll ever have as a person, let alone a birder. Here's the complete guide.
Many birders begin their birding journey by getting to know the birds that visit the small plot of land cordoned off by fencing known as the garden/backyard. Finding a local patch is the next step.
Bird identification can be a daunting process for beginners and experts alike, but by remembering the basic principles outlined below, the process should become far easier.
Barely a day after returning from holiday, I was back on the birding trail again. This time in the lovely rolling Worcestershire countryside in search of an American beauty.
With 2018 drawing to a close, there was just enough time for one final trip to one of my favourites places in the whole of the UK for birding, the East Yorkshire Coast.
On the 2nd November 2018 a Great Grey Shrike was found in a small area of the wilds that are Cannock Chase. Ten days later, with a free Monday morning available I would go in search of the bird.
What started out as a routine Sunday morning walk ended up becoming one of my birding highlights of the year.
For just a few days this Autumn, myself and the family returned to the birding Mecca that is Norfolk, and as usual it did not disappoint.
Grey or Red Phalaropes, as they are otherwise known, are, as I write turning up right across the UK after departing from their Arctic breeding grounds. When two such birds turned up in a sleepy corner of Warwickshire, the opportunity to see them was too good to pass up.
A rather mundane Monday morning was brightened up by the appearance of a juvenile Black-necked Grebe just a few miles from home.
Autumn is the best time to see migratory wading birds, so when a Curlew Sandpiper was reported less than half an hour from home it was an opportunity far too tempting to pass up.
Twice a year birders across the West Midlands region come together to try and spot the most amount of birds at a number of different sites. This is an account of the day and how I and my local patch fared.
The Marbled Duck is a problematic species whenever it appears in Britain, as they are a popular feature of private wildfowl collections. But every now and then an individual appears that seems to display the characteristics of a wild bird.
The Stilt Sandpiper may be a common enough site in North America. But whenever one is sighted in Britain it draws in visitors from far and wide, including yours truly.
Scottish football may not get the attention that its neighbor south of the border does, but it is a compelling league full of iconic teams, compelling characters and a host of interesting facts.
Celtic and Rangers are collectively known as the Old Firm. Not only are they the most successful football clubs in Scotland, but they also contest one of the fiercest football rivalries in the world.
For most of recorded history, we humans have lived under the rule of an empire. But, which of the many that have existed were the greatest?
In the dense forests of southern Asia lives a huge, venomous snake with an even bigger reputation.
Ilfracombe is charming and quaint seaside and harbour town nestled away in an often forgotten corner of the UK, the North Devon coast. It offers the perfect opportunity to get away from it all and has something for everybody.
It may only be 8 miles long but the peninsula of Flamborough Head is an outdoor and wildlife lovers haven. With unspoilt chalk cliffs and a historic lighthouse, it's one of Yorkshire's must see places.
East Yorkshire is home to some of the most spectacular coastline you'll find anywhere in the UK, and if you love seabirds, then the spectacular white chalk cliffs at Bempton are quite simply unmissable.
When we think of the great predators of the animal kingdom, chimpanzees don't normally spring to mind. Yet, they are in fact among the deadliest predators on the planet. But how exactly do they catch and kill their prey?
The Brummie accent is one of many regional accents spoken within the UK. There are millions of speakers, and yet little is known of it outside of Birmingham.
Football can often be as entertaining away from the pitch than on it. The biggest transfers always generate a great deal of interest, but for every deal that goes through, there are many that fall just short.
With their dark eyes, sharp teeth and fearsome reputation, all sharks are ruthless killers...aren't they?
The English Premier League (EPL) is one of the most exciting and popular leagues in the world, but it can be confusing to new fans. Allow me, a lifelong fan of the game, to explain it to you.
Plastic is a highly useful material that we can shape and morph into whatever shape we want. But, the fact that it does not biodegrade make it highly dangerous when cast into the natural environment. We caused the problem, but we also have the ability to solve it.
Sharks are among the most terrifying and deadly of all the creatures you'll likely encounter in the world's oceans, but which, are the deadliest of all? Read on if you want to find out...
There are few prehistoric animals as famous or iconic as Megalodon. But how much do we actually know about them? Were they as monstrous as everybody thinks?
Have you ever wondered which bird is larger- an Ostrich or an Emu? This article counts down the 10 largest living birds and puts to bed any argument as to which bird is the largest of them all.
Earth's biosphere and the organisms that live within it are in grave danger, and there can be little doubt that we humans and the lifestyles we choose to lead are the primary cause. But is there a way, a simple way of reversing the damage that we have done. Does the answer lie with Veganism?
The Roman Empire was a powerhouse of the Classical World, an Empire that survived for well over a thousand years, and in doing so changed the course of European and World History forever...
In the 1860's , Germany existed as a number of independent states dominated by Prussia and Austria. Within the next ten years, three destructive wars would change the political map of Europe forever.
Among all the birds there is none to rival the peregrine falcon in its powers of flight and its devastating speed. Even when stationary on a high perch, it seems to embody the essence of freedom.
Fascism was and is a stark warning from history. This article highlights how a political viewpoint, which had ripped Europe came to a rather sudden and abrupt end...
In the early stages of the English Civil War, the future city of Birmingham was the scene of an important, but long forgotten battle. A battle that pitted civilians directly against soldiers...
Between 1756 and 1763 Europe was immersed in a general conflict between the major powers. Prussia, having precipitated the war, fought for survival against a coalition of Austria, Russia and France.
Magpies currently harbour a reputation as killers of 'innocent' nestlings. But is it a reputation that is deserved? Or is there more to the magpie than meets the eye...
Few people have ever seen a polecat so you might not have noticed this lithe predator bounding back into our countryside after centuries of persecution.
The Roman Empire was the mightiest Empire ever to inhabit the European continent, but as we all know it fell into ruin long ago. But what if it didn't? How would Europe look today?
Writing- the symbolic representation of spoken language- and its development represents a major turning point in the intellectual evolution of humans, and made our modern society posssible.
The theory of evolution is often called 'Darwinism,' after the British naturalist, Charles Darwin. In 1859 he published the results of his research in the first evolutionary theory based on evidence.
Agriculture is often regarded as the human hallmark that allowed for the development of modern technologies. But recent evidence seems to suggest that it was more of a curse than a blessing.
The Bornean orang-utan, along with its Sumatran cousin are our two closest living relatives currently living on the Asian continent. At the same, they are both among the most endangered
The siege of Leningrad was a ghastly epic of endurance that cost the lives of up to 1.5 million people, both soldiers and civilians. In total, it ran for nearly 900 days.
A massive German army, supported by over 3000 tanks and almost as many aircraft invaded the Soviet Union on the 22nd June 1941. Ultimately, this invasion would decide the outcome of the war.
Today, the whole world is bound into a single capitalist system of global finance, trade and commerce. But can capitalism survive as pressure on the natural world we rely on increases?
Birds have perfected their powers of flight over eons of evolution. The result is a series of brilliant and spectacular wing designs, that give birds a wide range of incredible skills.
Blue and great tits are delightful to watch as they peck away at food in the most awkward of positions, survive in spite of intense competition for nest sites, starvation in winter and predators...
The robin is a particular favourite among bird lovers; everyone enjoys the attentions of this familiar redbreast in the garden during the winter. But despite receiving human help, many perish
Between 1899-1902, the world's largest empire fought a drawn out war against two small and poorly armed republics. What should have been a routine victory instead revealed the limits of British power.
In the 19th century the Zulus were the most aggressive and disciplined fighting force in southern Africa, a proud people who stood up to both the British and the Boers and fought them valiantly.
The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis is the outlandish story of our origins that refuses to go away despite the objections and ignorance of most mainstream academics. Could man really have been aquatic once?
Feathers are an excellent means of insulation for birds. Every single bird, including the flightless ones possess them. Along with mammalian fur, it's one of evolution's success stories
What would happen if every human being on Earth disappeared? How long would it take nature to recover from centuries of human activity? How much civilisation will able to stand the test of time?
In an epic three-day battle, the brief history of the Confederacy reached its zenith as General Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North was repulsed at Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania.
Normans and Anglo Saxons clashed in the longest, hardest-fought and most decisive battle in England in the early Middle Ages. William the Conqueror's victory changed English history forever.
The identity of Spain was forged in fighting; the Reconquista-the 'reconquest' of those territories taken by the Islamic Moors- was, for centuries, the guiding project of the nation.
To the casual observer, the dunnock, or 'hedge sparrow,' is just a small brown bird. In fact, all too often it's overlooked. But the dunnock has one of the oddest mating behaviours of any bird.
Bullfinches are one of the prettiest birds you'll ever encounter. But in the eyes of certain people, they are nothing more than a pest, greedily gobbling down buds from precious fruit trees.
The battle of the Somme is today synonymous with military folly and pointless bloodshed, but in truth there were good reasons to attempt the massive assault. The military balance at the time favoured the defender, but there seemed to be no other way to break the deadlock.
During the opening weeks of Hitler's war on the Western Front, thousands of soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force and the French First Army, with their backs to the sea, were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk in nine desperate days of fighting.
The Battle of Tours was a turning point in world history that decided the fate of Western Europe. It was here that the tide of Muslim conquest was turned back, with enormous implications for the future of the entire world.
Did you know that the country that suffered the second highest loss of life in World War II was actually China! And that Hitler was not only a carnivore but also a devout Catholic. How about the fact that World War II didn't actually come to an end until the 3rd October 1990. This hub explains why...
The Battle of Hattin was a great victory for Saladin, who used his faster, lighter forces to great effect. He was assisted to a great extent by his enemy King Guy, who chose to march heavily armoured troops through a water-less region at the hottest time of the year.
There can be little doubt that life on Earth is under threat today, and that includes human life too. But what exactly are these threats? And just how great are they? Should we fear global war more than man-made pollution, or famine more than deforestation? This hub will provide all the answers...
What makes the Cretaceous sea worse than any other in history is that there isn't just one predator to worry about, but a whole collection of them, including sharks, lightning fast killer fish and fearsome giant marine reptiles called mosasaurs.
155 million years ago in the Jurassic Period, the sea was home to what some people believe is the largest predator of all time: liopleurodon. This marine reptile can grow to over 65 feet in length, has a superb sense of smell and ambuses from below. Not what you want underneath you when you go for...
The extinction of the dinosaurs marked the end of one era, but heralded the beginning of another. It only took the Earth a few million years to recover from the after effects of the asteroid impact, but it was a changed world. This hub profiles one small corner of that world, in a time called the...
Just one million years ago, the Pampas grasslands of South America were home to a range of weird and extraordinary creatures, including giant ground sloths. The top predator though, was a legendary sabre-toothed cat called smilodon.
In 52 BC Roman military and engineering skills enabled Julius Caesar to defeat a vast Gallic army, which had come to relieve their famous chieftain Vercingetorix, who was besieged inside Alesia itself. Caesar's hard-fought victory secured Roman rule in all of Gaul.
In the summer of 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte, at the height of his power launched an invasion of Russia. It was the largest invading force that the world has ever seen, his Grande Armee of over 600,000 men from all over Europe poured into the Russian countryside, the majority of them would never...
The Battle of Waterloo was an epoch ending battle. It was the first and only battle that pitted the two finest military commanders of the age against each other- Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington. The conclusion of the battle would see the end of a bloody war that had engulfed Europe...
The complete guide to British birds continues with a look at the various species of diving ducks that inhabit the British Isles. Diving ducks primarily feed by diving beneath the surface, as opposed to the dabbling ducks.
The complete guide to British birds continues with a look at the various species of dabbling ducks that inhabit the British Isles. A dabbling duck is basically a surface feeding duck.
Of all the revolutions recorded by history, the biggest of all was actually occurred before anybody could write. The Neolithic Revolution transformed human beings in ways that seem scarcely believable today. It marked the end of hunting and gathering, and the start of humanity's dependence on...
Feral children have fascinated us for millennia. We've concoted many fanciful stories of children who have lived and survived in the wild. But this hub reveals that there is substantial truth behind the myths and the legends. In this hub, you'll meet the real Mowgli's and Tarzan's and learn how...
This article examines the different species of swans and geese that either live in Britain permanently or spend a part of the year here. Photos and videos of some species are also included.
We've now reached the Mesozoic era- a time when reptiles assumed dominance of the Earth. Huge dinosaurs dominated the land, pterosaurs had the skies to themselves and giant marine reptiles terrorised other ocean dwellers...
The history of life series moves on to the period where not only complex lifeforms evolved, but came to take over the world. But they didn't have everything their own way, the Paleozoic era bore witness to natural disasters that make our problems seem minute...
Planet Earth, our home for the last 200,000 years has existed for over 4 billion years. But how exactly did it form? And when did life first evolve and how did it do so? The story of life on Earth is every bit as exciting as anything conjured up by the human mind. This hub is the first in a four...
65 million years ago, a massive asteroid crashed into the Earth. It wiped out 70 per cent of all life, including the most successful, the dinosaurs. But what if the asteroid had missed? What would the world be like today, if the dinosaurs had survived...
A first in a series of hubs profiling the remarkable and wonderful birds that inhabit the British Isles. This particular hub explores the divers- sometimes known as loons and the magnificently plumaged grebes...
Many of Europe's top football leagues, while oozing quality and talent, are often accused of stifling predictability. They often leave fans bemoaning the continuing dominance of certain clubs. This serves serves to offer alternatives and showcase the most competitive football leagues in Europe.
The orangutan is one of our closest relatives, and yet we know comparatively little about them. They are an animal, that we need to learn more about, because maybe knowing more about them will helps us understand ourselves better. Hopefully, we can do this before it's too late...
In July 1940 Hitler stood poised on the Channel coast, ready to invade England. He drew up a seemingly elaborate plan called Operation Sealion that was ambitious but foolproof at first glance. However, a closer look seems to suggest otherwise...
Two million years ago, our ancestor Homo erectus marched out of Africa into Asia, where they encountered both familiar and fundamentally strange animals.
Have you ever stopped and wondered why all the large and dangerous animals seem to live in Africa? Or why we seem to harbour an incurable fascination with monsters? The answers to these questions could well lie in our past, where our remote ancestors lived alongside Africa's real monsters...
For thousands of years, our ancestors hesitated on the fringes of the European continent, seemingly unable to penetrate this frozen frontier. But an important cultural and technological revolution changed all that. Humans entered Europe...and they discovered a land of plenty: vast swathes of...
Now, we explore the weird and wonderful wildlife that inhabited the two largest islands discovered by the Polynesians- Madagascar and New Zealand.
The Polynesians discovered more than a million oceanic islands, but among the most famous are Easter Island and Hawaii. Each island contained animals and plants that would have astounded the eyes of those early explorers.
Long before either Abel Tasman or Captain Cook ever set eyes on Australia. The ancestors of today's Aborigines made a tricky sea voyage to an astonishing world full of weird and mighty beasts. This was a world crawling with monstrous marsupials, giant reptiles and huge flightless birds.
Today, if you wish to see large herds of large animals, then Africa is the place to go; but once, not so long ago the Americas boasted a collection of large animals or megafauna that must have astounded the earliest human settlers...
Evolution has produced a multitude of predators down the ages, but which were the deadliest of all time?
Napoleon Bonaparte is slowly tightening the noose on the European continent. Now, he turns his attentions to the Iberian Peninsula.
Of all the great historical figures that have shaped the world down the ages. Which ten have had the most profound effect on both human and natural history.
Have you ever wondered what are the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time are? This Hub reveals what they are, and whether there is any chance of them being solved.
The lion is a multi-cultural symbol of power and strength. But how much do we really know about them? Among the things we know well about them, is their hunting ability. This Hub explores the hunting behaviour of the lion in-depth...
In August 1992, a new football competition kicked off in England, the English Premier League. This marked the transformation of English football from a sport into the world of big money and business we all know today. Read how it all began here...
Imagine if all the oil yet to be extracted from the ground suddenly disappeared, never to reappear again. How would we cope without the raw material that made the modern world possible? Would we be able to find a suitable alternative fuel?
Recently, the fossils of the biggest snake that has ever lived were uncovered in South America. The snake, known as Titanoboa was so large that it made the monstrous pythons and anacondas of today look like worms.
Have you ever thought about what you would really do if you were the last person on Earth? This hub offers an insight into what such a scenario may look like...
1805, a year after Napoleon Bonaparte's coronation as Emperor, France was engaged in a fierce and bloody campaign against an Allied Russian and Austrian Army. The Battle of Austerlitz did not win the war, but it did showcase France's prowess on the battlefield.
Slimbridge is a nature reserve containing one of the largest collections of wildfowl you'll see anywhere. More importantly it serves as the best day out for all ages in the Midlands...
Lions are often regarded as the ultimate symbol of African wilderness. But there are still lions living wild outside of Africa, lions whose survival hangs precariously in the balance...
Whenever we take a trip into the wilder areas of our planet, we potentially put our lives at risk, often by travelling without taking the time to learn how to deal with dangerous wild animals. This hub gives you all the facts you need to know...
Wolves are among nature's best hunters. Their co-operative strategy has inspired humans since prehistoric times. But how exactly do they do it? What sort of tactics do they have to employ to bring down animals much larger than themselves?
The Midlands boasts a wealth of attractions that suit the tastes and interests of everybody. Here, I take a look at one of the premier attractions of the region, Alton Towers Theme Park
Cornelius Sulla has spared Caesar death and sent him into exile. Part 2 concentrates on Caesar attempting to forge his career; along the way he deals with Kings, Pirates and an old enemy of Rome, as well as having to come to terms with personal tragedy...
Hunter Gatherers have often been the subject of ridicule in the past. But their lifestyle is the most successful one practiced by humanity, enduring for over 2 million years. Today small groups of people continue to live this lifestyle, free of the trappings of the modern world.
The Nautilus is not like any creature alive today. It is a relic of a time when the world was ruled by giant reptiles and the seas teemed with the Nautilus' cousins, the Ammonites.
Napoleon Bonaparte and his French army have invaded Egypt, conquered Alexandria, and marched across the desert towards Cairo. Now, within sight of the Pyramids he will do battle with the Mamluks for control of Egypt.
Most of us enjoy feeding the birds in our garden, but why stop there? Our furry friends, the mammals could also use our help.
Napoleon's campaign in Italy is going swimmingly, having knocked Piedmont out of the war, but he has one last foe to vanquish, the Austrians.
March 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte takes command of a disenchanted army. But quickly transforms them through glorious speeches and inspired leadership, and marches them into Italy...
The loss of William Wallace in 1305, had been a bitter blow for Scotland, but with the fall of one hero, came the rise of another...
Edward I of England thought that he had Scotland under his thumb, now that he had installed a puppet king. But the Scots weren't finished, for their greatest hero was about to enter the fray.
Once again Edward, thought he had won. But the Welsh would rise again, and wage war once more...
In 1277 Edward I of England embarked on the first of several campaigns to try and conquer the Celtic nation of Wales. The Welsh were dismissed as a threat, but such arrogance was misguided...
When People first colonised New Zealand, they lived in terror of the Giant Eagle, the largest Raptor ever to evolve...
The Sentinelese are the last tribe to have never been contacted by the outside world. They represent the last living link to our stone age past...
Ten Facts about our familiar and charismatic garden birds, that you may not have known before...
The Scottish wildcat, looks like your average domestic moggy, but is anything but...
The humble swallow undertakes one of the most epic migrations in all of nature. This hub reveals the route they take and the challenges they face along the way...
We all love to feed the geese and ducks bread. But have you ever seen the goose with a crooked or deformed wing? It turns out that bread may do more harm than good.