Author Archive for: Mark Cocker

UEA car park threat to crickets in the grass

Norwich How odd that UEA, a place renowned for its pioneering role in academic conservation, should contemplate ruining these grasslands with a huge car park and artificial grass pitchesWhen I first went to the University of East Anglia more than 30 ye…

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Above our village, the swifts speed and scream

Claxton, Norfolk Surely more than anything else in British nature, swifts symbolise all of life, and it is all here now in the line of that curveMy summer’s highlight, as we sit in the garden most evenings, has been to watch the pre-migration flockin…

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Better than money – yellow-rattle’s priceless gifts

Blackwater Carr, Norfolk If not wealth for cuckoos, the flowers are indisputable riches for bumblebeesAs I write I have a small canvas bag of yellow-rattle seed on my desk. It bulges now like a full purse and the disk-like flattened seeds jangle a litt…

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Only thrushes and blackbirds are awake at ‘sparrow’s-fart’

Claxton, Norfolk I reached the river Yare when the sun’s first effect was a band of exquisite apricot that shaded incrementally colder overheadAccording to the veteran chronicler of English slang Jonathon Green, the expression “sparrow’s-fart” …

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These marshes are awash with invisible chemistry

Claxton, Norfolk Ants allow us to reflect upon a chemical realm we can seldom know empirically. They are governed by itIf I set aside the rag-winged rooks and moulting lapwings, and forget the storms that this land has just endured, the morning seems u…

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My first encounter with a pine marten

Aigas, Highlands The pine marten undulated through the trees in such soft eel-like loops that one could imagine it was an animal lacking in boneFor all their recent spread – they now skirt the edges of several Scottish cities and pop up occasionally…

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May blossom in June is a pink and white sensation

Claxton, Norfolk The hawthorn’s petals are infused with rose, a gloriously subtle hue, like the last residue of juice in a bowl of strawberries and creamThere had to be some benefits to the year’s strange grey iron-clad winter-spring, which persist…

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Close encounters on a bear mountain

Tara national park, Serbia The extraordinary thing is not how comfortable local people are around bears but how they live in almost parallel worldsSitting in a forest hut for three hours watching a glade fill with shadows tests to the limits all that m…

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The whitethroat expresses both acacia thorn and bramble

Claxton, Norfolk The song is as lowly and modest as the bush from which it emerges. It inhabits our spring subliminallyI can tell the weather by the St Mark’s flies, because, as they sail over the brambles, their fore-legs dangle together and are hel…

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Peacocks emerge from winter sleep in combative mood

Claxton, Norfolk To be touched by those fluttering wings is to be brushed by velvet. Yet in this way they contest anything that transgresses their boundaryNormally all the softness of the English summer is in a blackbird’s syrinx. Today, however, as …

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