As of February 2016, after 416 posts, and over six and a half years of blogging, I'm taking a break.
I've explained why here. There's plenty of past posts to read, though - hope you enjoy them !
Looking for a brilliant present for a young naturalist ? Buy my book ! Available from Amazon UK,
Amazon US and worldwide but buy from a local bookshop if you can.
Archived posts: The following articles are from the month or year requested:

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016


At the end of each year, since the start of my blog, I have written a post on New Year's Eve, looking back on the year. At the end of last year, I said that this year would not have been as good as last.-  it's not every year that your first book comes out, you get to present a copy to the Royal Family, and then do live TV on the BBC with Sir David Attenborough - but this year has had its good moments.

I always enjoy writing these posts, because it reminds me of the best parts of the year, and there was quite a lot this year ! This is what I have learned...

Happy Christmas !


Happy Christmas ! I'm spending time with my family and having a great time. Sadly, it's not snowing over here, and we only had about two or three snow days in Scotland so far - I hope we get more, because it's really beautiful near my house when it snows. (Apart from a few winters ago when it got so cold it was -18c one night)

Here's a quick fun fact for Christmas. Rudolph, Santa's reindeer was actually most likely to have been a girl. How do I know this ? It's to do with the timing of when antlers fall off and regrow each year. Both male and female reindeer have antlers (which is unusual for deer - normally it's just males). Anyway, male reindeer's antlers usually fall off before Christmas time, whereas the female's antlers do not, making Rudolph more likely to be a girl (*) !

(*) Scientists tend to try and be very exact about the timings of antlers, but I've found it varies a LOT with roe deer - it depends on age, diet, health and region. I've seen roe deer still in velvet in May, and other roe deer close by with hard antlers by March. Here's my guide anyway.

Where are all the woods going?


Here's the thing: my woods are vanishing.

The badger wood ? Gone. Mortuary wood, where I left the badger to decompose ? Gone - and it was small, but an hour spent there showed it was rich with wildlife. Parts of the Pheasant Woods where I began bone collecting ? Gone. More recently, a wood near the pine marten wood was cut down. A big part of Titus Well wood was cut down for a major power line. The wood where I filmed the roe deer carcass was cut down earlier this year. And a wood just beside the main road north past my village has been cut down.

So why is it happening ? To find out, we need to go back in the past. After WWII, most of the timber was used in the war effort, and to replenish the stock, there were tax incentives to plant thousands of trees were planted in the 1960s and 70s. These trees take about 40 or 50 years to grow, so are now coming to maturity. The problem is, the tax breaks stopped in the 1990s, so there aren't enough plantations to replace those being cut down.

A win and a loss


Two quick bits of news: firstly thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Cairngorms Nature Wildlife Presenter competition, and  a big congratulations to James Miller from Surrey who was the eventual winner. I'm pretty sad not to have won, but as runner up I do get some great prizes, like a trail camera, a signed book by Iolo Willliams and a day watching wildlife in the Cairngorms. I also really enjoyed making the video, and I'll try to make some more in 2016.

Secondly, last week The Courier ranked me at #24 in their Impact power list of people in this area of Scotland who were most influential in 2015, which was very kind of them and a very nice surprise (I didn't know in advance) although quite why I'm ranked nine places higher than Professor Sue Black at CAHID (which I visited in 2011) I don't know !

Braco 200: My village - then and now !


I know this path well because it leads to the pheasant woods which is where I started bone collecting, and I've walked by it so many times. But until recently I didn't realise that but over 100 years ago, this man stood right here in this exact spot for a photograph, outside his long demolished house.

 How do I know this ? Because while I have been researching blog posts about my village for its 200th anniversary I have found loads of old photographs of my village (I'm pretty sure they're all out of copyright, which is why I've used them below). 

This weeks post is a bit different because I went out to find the exact spot where the photos were taken, and taken a new one from the exact position to show how much it has changed. Read on to find out more...

The difference between fox and badger skulls


One of the most common emails I get is asking whether a certain skull is a fox or badger skull. These can be easily confused because they are the same size, shape, can be found in the same area and are two very common woodland animals in the UK. It will be even harder to tell apart if you only have a fragment of the skull.

So...if you find a medium sized skull, how do you know whether it's a badger or fox ? Read on to find out...

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