August Top 10

NHBS’s Top 10 bestsellers August 2021

We love looking back at our bestsellers from the month before and are very excited to share our Top 10 list, featuring the best of August.

This month, highlights include recent works such as Silent Earth and Collins Birds of the World, as well as several you may recognise from last month’s Top 10, such as All the Birds of the World and the consistently popular Britain’s Insects.


Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse | Dave Goulson
Hardback | August 2021

In top place this month is Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse, part love letter to the insect world, part elegy, and part rousing manifesto for a greener planet. Drawing on the latest ground-breaking research and a lifetime of study, Silent Earth reveals the shocking decline of insect populations that has taken place in recent decades, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Read our extended review.


Collins Birds of the World: All 10,711 Species Illustrated | Norman Arlott et al
Hardback | September 2021

Collins Birds of the World: All 10,711 Species Illustrated is the complete collection of the Collins Field Guide’s incredibly detailed, accurate and beautiful bird paintings brought together for the first time in one comprehensive volume. All 10,711 of the world’s bird species are covered – this is the ultimate reference book for birdwatchers and bird enthusiasts.

Read our interview with Norman Arlott.


Britain’s insects: A Field guide to the insects of Great Britain and Ireland | Paul D. brock
Flexibound | May 2021

Britain’s Insects is even more popular this month! This field guide is an innovative, up-to-date, carefully designed and beautifully illustrated field guide to Britain and Ireland’s 25 insect orders, concentrating on popular groups and species that can be identified in the field.


Featuring superb photographs of live insects, Britain’s Insects covers the key aspects of identification and provides information on status, distribution, seasonality, habitat, food plants and behaviour.



A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland | Paul  D. Brock
Flexibound | October 2019

A Comprehensive Guide to Insects of Britain & Ireland has moved up from the 9th spot on last month’s list. It is a complete, photographic field guide to over 2,300 species of insects in Britain and Ireland – including beetles, flies, ants, bees and wasps. The clear photographs will assist in the identification of the majority of insects likely to be encountered.

This guide also contains concise text on behaviour, present-day conservation status and pointers on species of similar appearance. Serious naturalists will welcome notes on areas to look for rarities and further resources that provide additional information on particular insect groups.


British Craneflies | Alan Stubbs
Hardback | July 2021  

British Craneflies is a guide to the identification and natural history of 250 species in six families of cranefly. It describes the distribution and habitat of each one, with 128 pages of identification keys illustrated with thumbnail drawings and colour plates showing markings and venation of the wings of 180 species. This guide also contains photograph examples of some distinctive and some common craneflies, illustrations of the male genitalia for all species of Tipulidae and for most genera of other families, and introductory chapters including a full account of the enemies of craneflies.


All the Birds of the World | Josep Del Hoyo          
Hardback | August 2020

This all-encompassing new guide lists all the birds of the world, allowing readers to browse and compare Earth’s amazing avian diversity between the covers of one volume. All the Birds of the World presents over 11,524 species, accompanied by 11,558 distribution maps and 20,865 illustrations detailing sexual dimorphism, morphs and distinctive subspecies.


Britain’s Butterflies: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland | David Newland et al.
Flexibound | August 2020

This photographic field guide to all of Britain’s butterflies returns in a fourth edition, produced in association with Butterfly Conservation. Britain’s Butterflies is a comprehensive and beautifully designed photographic guide, containing hundreds of stunning colour photographs and providing the latest information on every species ever recorded. It covers all 59 butterfly species that breed regularly, four former breeders, 10 rare migrants and one species of unknown status.


Plants and Habitats: An Introduction to Common Plants and Their Habitats in Britain and Ireland |Ben Averis
Paperback | June 2013

Plants and Habitats combines the species and habitat approaches to plants and vegetation. It is an identification guide to 700 of the most common, conspicuous or useful ecological indicator plant species that make up most of Britain and Ireland’s vegetation. It also contains a separate habitats section describing the flora, ecology and management of habitats. This illustrated guide aims to help people understand our vegetation at all scales, from individual plants to whole landscapes.


A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes | Dominic Price
Hardback | September 2021

A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes is another repeat occurrence from last month’s Top 10 and is a consistent bestseller for NHBS. This guide aims to simplify the identification of this fascinating group of plants, using characters that are both easy to spot in the field and simple to remember. Over 100 species are described, focusing on key features of both their genus and species.

Read our interview with Dominic Price.


Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland | Paul Waring Et al.
Paperback |  November 2018

Still popular this month, the third edition of the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland is a fully revised and updated version.

This field guide includes beautiful illustrations displaying key features to help with identification. It covers flight season, life cycle, larval foodplants, habitat and more, along with maps presenting distribution information.

The revised edition also contains an introduction explaining how the methods of identifying and recording moths have evolved over recent years.


Trees for Life: Q&A with Alan McDonnell

Alan McDonnell, Conservation Manager for Trees for Life, kindly took the time to answer some questions on the important work they do in the Scottish Highlands and their ambitious East West Wild project. The Caledonian Forest has been under threat for thousands of years and, by the 1950s, only 1% of the original forest remained. Since its creation in 1993, Trees for Life has worked tirelessly to restore this forest and its ecosystem.

Alan McDonnell

In this captivating conversation, we discuss the importance of working in collaboration with landowners and local communities, how the Covid pandemic has affected them as a charity, and share different ways to get involved in helping Trees for Life achieve their goals.

Could you begin by introducing us to the goals of Trees for Life and the work that you do?

We are a rewilding charity working in the Scottish Highlands. For us, rewilding is about allowing natural processes to work on a large scale. It’s about creating potential for communities to thrive as a result of the health of the natural environment around them.

Our work has therefore increasingly focused on involving people close to where we operate. Our volunteering programme places an emphasis on nature connection. This includes practical action like planting trees, restoring peatlands, and working in the tree nursery at our Dundreggan conservation estate. In recent years, we’ve been increasing our partnerships with others interested in using nature to benefit people’s mental health. We find this hugely rewarding for everyone involved.

Our practical rewilding work includes restoring red squirrel populations to parts of their original range in north and west Scotland and communities play an important role in supporting that. We’ve also just completed an assessment of the health and resilience of Scotland’s ancient pinewoods, which we hope will be just the start of a journey to secure and expand these iconic woodlands in partnership with land managers. Finally, we continue the work Trees for Life started with, restoring native woodlands to appropriate parts of the landscape.

Dundreggan Nursery © Chris Aldridge

On your website, you state that you believe you can always achieve more through teamwork. Why do you think it is so important for Trees for Life to collaborate with landowners and local communities?

One way or another, we all have a stake in the land and an influence on its future, but people’s priorities are different. If we focus too much on our own interests in isolation, we end up in conflict. This tendency has dogged the land management debate for decades, to the detriment of everyone. We want to help change the focus to one where landowners, communities, and environmental interests look at what they have in common and what they can achieve together. We’ve already seen how this can create new possibilities for sustainable progress, and at a larger scale, for nature, people’s wellbeing, and the local economies that communities depend on.

You have several major projects in the works, including your very ambitious East West Wild project. This project aims to form a coalition of landowners and communities to create a nature-based economy, could you tell us a bit more about what this entails?

The initiative is founded on the precept that nature, communities, and the economy need each other – if one fails, sooner or later it will take the others with it. East West Wild looks at it the other way round: progress in restoring the health of nature in a large landscape can be a catalyst for both social and economic regeneration. We already know that given time and a little help, nature can surge back, so our focus now is how that could create opportunities for people and local businesses. A scoping study has identified nature-friendly forestry, farming, private investment in ecosystem services and small-scale renewable energy as some of the ways in which we can help nature to recover. Such an approach could also create jobs, and sequester carbon through sustainable land use. We’re under no illusions about the challenges involved in attracting the investment to turn these ideas into reality. But we’re also really excited about having the chance to go for such big gains as part of such a diverse partnership of interests.

Birch tree being planted © Trees for Life

The project area stretches from the west coast of Scotland to Loch Ness, encompassing multiple Glens including Glen Affric, Cannich, and Moriston. What was the process behind selecting this area for this project?

One of the earliest aspirations of Trees for Life was to realise the potential for Glen Affric to act as a coast-to-coast habitat corridor, noted I believe by George Peterken in the 1980s. However, as the idea grew in our minds, we knew we wanted to try for a big area to get the ecological multiplier effects that come from genuine landscape-scale change. We also know that the potential here is massive, with a diverse range of woodlands, peatlands, freshwater, montane, riparian, and coastal habitats all capable of restoring themselves. If we can increase the ecological connectivity at this scale, potentially 2000 sq km, the wildlife response that follows will be tremendous and importantly, resilient over the longer term.

Of course, all of that is little more than a daydream if we fail to bring the communities and landowners with us. Our key priority at this stage is to show people that a high level of ambition for the natural environment can positively impact their ways of life.

Trees for Life volunteers in Glen Affric © Trees for Life

Have you found the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the development of this project? How have you coped with the challenges of the current situation?

It’s been both good and bad. It has caused us problems as we’ve been trying to reach out and build new relationships without the spontaneity and informality of face-to-face conversations. However, as we all got our heads around online meetings, we’ve benefited from the speed at which we can meet people and reduced the need to spend time travelling. Hopefully, as we get to the point of starting the initiative in earnest this autumn, we’ll have the scope to meet people in person, which will undoubtedly help the partnership to become genuinely co-creative.

For anyone who is inspired by the vision of Trees for Life and wishes to help, how would you recommend they get involved?

You can learn more about Trees for Life and our vision for a rewilded Scotland by visiting our website.

We hope that our volunteer programme will restart in spring 2022. This includes our popular Conservation Weeks. People should keep an eye out for updates on our website and social media channels.

We have a Cycle for the Climate initiative, where people can raise money for rewilding through bike challenges – both big and small. And of course, we are forever grateful to people who choose to make regular and one-off donations to the charity. This is what we depend on to plan future projects and keep building towards a rewilded Highlands where people and nature enjoy a better relationship.

Trees for Life volunteers © Stephen Couling, Trees for Life

You can find out more about Trees for Life from their website and by following them on Facebook and Twitter.


Author Interview: Collins Birds of the World

Collins Birds of the World is the complete collection of Norman Arlott’s beautifully detailed and accurate bird paintings, brought together for the first time. Accompanied by text detailing characteristics and appearances for each species, this comprehensive new field guide is the ultimate reference book for birdwatchers and bird lovers.

Norman Arlott is a wildlife artist and has illustrated over 200 books. He has kindly answered some of our questions on his experiences and the process of creating this all-encompassing work.

Could you tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a wildlife artist?

I originally trained as a mechanical engineer but ‘jumped ship’ in the 70s to take up my real love as a wildlife artist, with a focus on birds. I made this leap with much encouragement from my wife Marie and a great deal of help and inspiration from well-known bird artist Robert Gillmor, bird photographer Eric Hosking and the great East African ornithologist John Williams. I had no intention of working on book illustrations, but I got caught up in it, really liked it and I have enjoyed it ever since.

In the intervening years, I have contributed illustrations to over 200 books, including some classics such as Birds of the Western Palearctic, Handbook to the Birds of the World and the SASOL Birds of South Africa.  Many postage stamps feature my artwork from places such as Jamaica and The Bahamas in the Caribbean, Liberia in Africa and Fiji in the Pacific Ocean.

Over the last 15 years, I have concentrated mainly on writing and illustrating a series of bird guides (more coloured checklists really) covering the Palearctic, India, The West Indies, North America, South East Asia and the Philippines – many of these illustrations and accompanying text feature in the forthcoming Birds of the World.

You’ve been a part of creating bird guides for areas as broad as the Palearctic to more specific locations such as the Indonesian Archipelago and Armenia. What have you enjoyed most about your travels?

During the last 40 years or so, I have had the good fortune to travel to various parts of the globe, most notably East and South Africa. I led safaris to Kenya and Tanzania for many years, which led to many adventures and meetings. On one of my first visits, I was fortunate to form a friendship with two people: author and broadcaster Roger A Caras and zoo director Steve Graham, enabling me to visit North America. Whilst in America, I was introduced to many of my bird-artist ‘heroes’, all of which passed on great encouragement and useful tips – one snippet passed to me by the great Arthur Singer was always to remember ‘white areas are equally as important as the illustrated areas in the look of a plate’.

When illustrating Antpittas for the Handbook of the Birds of the World, you were integral in the realisation that a specimen in the Natural History Museum was misidentified. Could you tell us more about this experience? 

The Antpitta discovery came about after a research visit to the British Museum at Tring. Needing to find a reference for the Yellow-breasted Antpitta, a bird I was about to illustrate for the Handbook to the Birds of the World, I was able to photograph and make notes from the one and only skin in the museum. Before embarking on the illustration I checked the text notes provided by the authors only to discover that the text and the bird I had photograph did not correspond. My initial thought was I had photographed the wrong specimen so I called Robert Prys-Jones at the British Museum and asked him to check the skin – Robert, along with Peter Salaman, then followed up my query and came to the conclusion that the specimen in the British Museum was in fact a new subspecies of the Brown-banded Antpitta. All the relevant details of this new bird can be found in the Bulletin of the British Ornitholgists’ Club (Vol 129-1). I have made many visits to the British Museum to do research for various books and this is the only time I have known a skin to be completely misidentified, especially a skin with a label annotated by P. L. Sclater, an expert on the family.

Collins Birds of the World is a huge, comprehensive collection of over 25,000 illustrations of 10,711 species. Could you tell us a little bit about the process of creating this guide?

I was asked to consider putting together a complete coloured checklist to the Birds of the World using the vast Harper Collins artwork archive. There were a few areas that Harper Collins did not have suitable artwork, such as Australia, New Guinea and some small island groups, so I painted all of these in readiness for putting together the Birds of the World plates.

I decided that to even start this project, a standard ‘list’ was needed – it was decided that the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) world list as of January 2019 was the one I would rigidly follow. Using mainly mine and Ber Van Perlo’s artwork, I promised Harper Collins that I was able to put together the 301 plates and hopefully make a really satisfying (to look at) book, even though some of the plates may contain a great number of species.

Although told by many that I was an ‘idiot’ to take on such a project, and I admit at times I had to agree, overall I genuinely enjoyed the experience of working ‘electronically’ to produce plates. Hopefully, I fulfilled the promise I made to the publisher to produce an attractive and practical book to the Birds of the World!

After my work designing the plates, David Price Goodfellow and his team went on to produce the high-resolution scans and add any missing pieces of text, so all in all a great team effort.

After such a mammoth publication, do you have any more projects lined up for the future?

I have recently been given the opportunity by Harper Collins to produce a large-format book of my ‘proper’ paintings of British birds – what a difference from the past couple of years.

Princeton University Press: Publisher of the Month

Princeton University Press was founded in 1905 as a nonprofit publisher with close connections to Princeton University. Originally publishing university documents and newspapers, such as the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Princeton University Press didn’t publish its first book until 1912. Since then, they have published over 21,000 works, including many award-winning titles. Princeton University Press publishes well-known series such as WILDguides, the high-quality, practical guides to many wildlife regions around the world, and Princeton Illustrated Checklists, which contain illustrations and concise text of all species in specific regions. They also publish and distribute Wild Nature Press, a natural history publisher that specialises in books on marine life.

NHBS is delighted to announce Princeton University Press as our Publisher of the Month for September.

Throughout September we will have special offers on a selection of titles, giving you the opportunity to explore their books. Browse a selection of highlights below, or Princeton University Press’s entire range.


Peter Adriaens et al.
Paperback | £24.99 £29.99

The most up-to-date guide for gull identification, with a direct and visual approach and an abundance of beautiful colour photographs. This guide also has sections comparing similar taxa, identifying hybrids, gull watching, migration and sonograms


Beetles of Western North America
Arthur V Evans
Paperback | £29.99 £34.99

A landmark book illustrated with more than 1,500 photographs, covering 1,428 species from all 131 families that occur in the West. An extensive introduction provides information on beetle anatomy, natural history, behaviour, conservation and more.


Habitats of the World: A Field Guide for Birders, Naturalists, and Ecologists
Iain D Campbell et al.
Paperback | £24.99 £27.99

The first field guide to the world’s major land habitats – 189 in all. This compact, accessible, and comprehensive book features concise identification descriptions and is richly illustrated.


Sharks of the World: A Complete Guide
David A Ebert et al.
Hardback | £34.99 £39.99

The essential book for everyone interested in sharks, packed with colour illustrations, line drawings and photographs. Well-presented and easy to use, this is currently the only single guide to cover over 500 of the world’s shark species.


Ant Architecture: The Wonder, Beauty, and Science of Underground Nests
Walter R Tschinkel
Hardback | £19.99 £24.99

This wonderfully illustrated book takes you inside an unseen world where thousands of ants build intricate homes in the soil beneath our feet. Ant Architecture charts new directions for tomorrow’s research and reflects on the role of beauty in nature and the joys of shoestring science.


Wasps: The Astonishing Diversity of a Misunderstood Insect
Eric R Eaton
Hardback | £19.99 £24.99

This richly illustrated book introduces you to some of the most spectacular members of the wasp realm. Written by a leading authority on these remarkable insects, Wasps reveals a world of staggering variety and endless fascination.

Plant Galls of the Western United States

Ronald A Russo
Flexibound | £18.99 £24.99

Describing 536 species of galls and their causative agents, this guide explores this unique realm with stunning photos and fascinating information about the life cycles of the organisms involved.



All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.

The NHBS Guide to UK Owl Identification

There are six owl species in the UK, although only four are native (barn, tawny, long-eared and short-eared owl). We also get occasional visitors, such as the snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca).

Owls are mainly nocturnal and feed on predominantly small mammals such as the field vole (Microtus agrestis), but also some small birds, invertebrates, amphibians and fish. All these species are listed as ‘least concern’ by the IUCN red list but face serious threats in the UK, such as habitat loss, declining prey populations and a decrease in nesting sites, as well as direct deaths such as from car collisions or poisoning. Owls can be used as an indicator species for the health of the food chain: their decline may indicate that other wildlife that also depend on the same habitats are also under threat. 

Identification of owl species usually relies on colouration and eye colour, as well as their call. This is particularly important as owls are often active at night and therefore are hard to identify by sight. 

There are several types of equipment that can be useful when searching for owls, such as binoculars, night vision monoculars, a headlamp or flashlight and a guide to owl pellet identification. If you wish to encourage owls onto your land, there are a variety of nest boxes available, depending on the species you wish to attract. 

Little Owl (Athene noctua)

Distribution: Widespread throughout England and parts of Wales. Rare in southern Scotland
What to look for: The little owl is a small species, with brown and white feathers in a dappled appearance. It has a short tail and bright yellow eyes. Usually out at night, it is most likely to be seen perched on structures such as trees, telegraph poles and fences.
Did you know? The little owl is non-native in the UK and was introduced in the late 1800s. It is not thought to cause any detrimental impacts on any other species.

Little Owl by Andy Morffew via Flickr
Barn Owl (Tyto alba alba)

Distribution: Widespread across England and Wales, with decreasing density towards north Scotland and scattered distribution in Ireland
What to look for: An iconic species, the barn owl is instantly recognisable. Its silver and golden-brown back and pure white underside and face are distinctive, along with its heart-shaped face and black eyes. Its face shape plays an important function for hunting, as it directs high-frequency sound to their ear openings, such as those produced by mice and voles. This helps the barn owl to perform precision hunting in tall vegetation. Another subspecies, Tyto alba guttata, which has a darker coloured underside, also occurs in the UK.
Did you know? Owing to their large wing size compared to their body mass, and the structure of their feathers, barn owls fly almost completely silently.

Barn Owl by Portable Portraits via Flickr
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

Distribution: Widely distributed in England, Wales, and parts of Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland
What to look for: The tawny owl has mottled brown feathers with flecks of white and more reddish-brown. Its colouration can vary from brown to grey. This species has a paler underside and a round head, with large black eyes and a dark ring pattern around its face.

Tawny Owl by Nick Jewell via Flickr
Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus)

Distribution: Widespread across the UK, although fewer individuals in Wales and south west England.
What to look for: This mottled brown species has bright orange-red eyes and long tufts that resemble ears, hence the common name. The long-eared owl is a shy, nocturnal species that can be found in communal roosts in densely covered woodland and forests. The population is boosted in winter due to numbers of migrating individuals from other parts of Europe.

Long-eared Owl by vil.sandi via Flickr
Short-Eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Distribution: Migratory species, found across Scotland and northern England in summer before moving further south during winter.
What to look for: Often confused with the long-eared owl, this species is slightly slimmer, with a paler colour and yellow eyes rather than the long-eared owl’s orange. It has brown feathers on its back and a pale belly, with darker feathers framing its eyes. They also rarely display their ‘ear’ tufts.

Short-eared Owl by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife via Flickr
Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo)

Distribution: Very rare, scattered around the north of the UK, including Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Galloway, and Inverness-shire.
What to look for: The Eurasian eagle-owl has tufts similar to the long-eared owl. It is a large bird, weighing up to 4.6kg compared to the barn owl at 500g. This species is mottled, but there is a high variation in plumage colouration for this species, from browny-black to a pale grey. There is often a dark band running from the eye to the ends of the ‘ear’ tufts. It may have pale sections around the eyes and beak, with a darker, splotched forehead.
Did you know? There is serious debate surrounding this owl species and its place in the UK countryside. While there is fossil evidence that suggests this species inhabited the UK before becoming extinct, many don’t believe it is a native species. Therefore, the conservation of this species and the safety of the individuals present in the UK is under threat.

Eurasian Eagle-owl by Jenny Laird via Flickr


The NHBS Guide to UK Bird Nest Identification

The main breeding season for birds in the UK is between March and August every year. This article looks at some of the various bird nests built by UK species.

What are they made of?

Not all birds build nests, but those that do use a huge variety of materials, depending on the nesting time, the species and surrounding habitat. They can contain tightly woven twigs, grass or woody stems. Other species use premade nooks and crevices in trees, natural structures or buildings. Nests can be lined with softer or warmer materials such as animal fur, moss, mud or feathers. These materials are usually held together by spider webs, twine-like vegetation or even horsehair.

Nest varieties

Nests can be a variety of sizes, depending on the size of the bird, the need to remain hidden and the structural limitations. For example, the largest recorded bird’s nest is a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at 2.9m wide and 6m deep. It was recorded in 1963 in Florida, USA. In Scotland, a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nest was recorded in 1954 at an impressive 4.57m deep. The smallest recorded birds nests are made by hummingbird species, around 2cm wide and 2-3cm tall.

How are they built?

The nests can be built by either the male or female, or they can work together. They can take from a few days to a few weeks to build, depending on the size and complexity. Some bird species build a new nest every breeding season but others, such as the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) will use the same nest for many years.


Often enough, if you observe a nest from a distance, you’ll be able to identify the species when the adult birds return. But there are other ways to identify the owners of a nest. Nest size, shape, material and placement can all be useful ways to identify them, as well as egg size, number, colour and pattern. Some nests and eggs are so similar, however, they can be very difficult to identify in the field. Nests and eggs are protected by law through the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981; it is an offence to take, damage or destroy any wild nest. Disturbance can lead to young being abandoned and injury to nesting birds – please observe nests from a safe distance.

Location and timing can also be important, as not all bird species nest at the same time and some only nest in certain ranges within the UK. Many species can also be quite specific about the habitat they nest in.

Nests are usually categorised by type and those in the UK can include:


These are nests of the simplest construction, usually a shallow depression in the sediment or vegetation. They can sometimes be lined with vegetation, stones, feathers or shell fragments, often to help camouflage the eggs. This is a common nest type of many wader species, as well as pheasants, quails and bustards.

Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Philip McErlean via Flickr

The ringed plover breeds on open ground, such as beaches and gravel flats. They lay their eggs directly on the ground in an open area with little or no vegetation, with shell fragments sometimes used to line the nest. They usually produce 2-3 clutches per breeding season, each with up to four eggs. These eggs are pale brown with dark brown speckles. As this nest type is very vulnerable to predators, the ringed plovers have developed a strategy to draw attention away from the eggs – the parent bird will lead a predator away from the nest by feigning an injured wing.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Deryk Tolman via Flickr

This species also creates scrape nests, although they can be lined with twigs or other vegetation. Laying between 1-4 eggs, only one clutch is laid per season. The eggs are similar to the ringed plover, with a pale brown background and dark brown speckles. This species, however, uses a practice called ‘egg dumping’, where they lay their eggs in a nest of another species, such as herring gulls, and allow them to raise the chicks.


These are nests dug into the ground, riverbanks or cliffs. The UK birds that nest in burrows include puffins, some petrel and shearwater species, sand martins, shelducks and kingfishers. Many burrow-nesting birds excavate their own burrows but some use the pre-dug burrows of other species. Puffins, for example, often use empty rabbit burrows. As these nests are underground, species identification can be difficult without disturbing the nest, therefore it is best to wait for an adult bird or chick to appear. The location of the nest can also help to identify the species. Kingfishers, for example, usually occupy burrows in riverbanks.

Puffin (Fratercula arctica)

Mustang Joe via Flickr

The Atlantic puffin lays a single white egg between late April to early May. The parent birds will defend the nesting site and take turns feeding the chick until it is ready to fledge, between 34-60 days after laying. During this time, the chick will remain within the nest burrow.


Cavity nests are chambers, usually in trees. They can be excavated by the bird themselves, such as woodpeckers, but most species use natural cavities or disused nests. These species are often enticed to use nest boxes as these mimic natural cavities. The process of excavating a cavity can take, on average, around two weeks.

Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

bkareei via Flickr

The nuthatch does not create its own cavity and will often use old woodpecker nests, although they will enlarge an existing hole or, if the entrance is too large, the female will plaster it with mud to reduce the size. The nuthatch lays between 6-9 white eggs that have red speckling. The eggs are small, usually around 2cm long and 1cm wide.


A cup nest is a hemispherical nest, with a deep depression for the eggs to be housed in. It is often made of a more pliable material such as grasses and thin twigs, but some can be made of mud. These nests are built mostly by passerine birds.

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

decafdennis via Flickr

Blackbirds usually build their nest in evergreen bushes such as ivy, hawthorn or holly, but will also nest in sheds and outbuildings. The nest is built by the female and made with vegetation such as leaves and grass, bound together with mud. The female lays 3-5 bluish-green eggs with reddish-brown blotches that are, on average, 2.9cm long and 2.1cm wide.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Arjan Haverkamp via Flickr

This species builds a mud-lined cup nest, usually in bushes or trees. The song thrush lays between four to five eggs, which are blue with dark spots and are around 2.7cm in length and 2cm in width. They can lay between 2-4 clutches per season. 


These nests are large structures, which can either be elevated or on the ground, depending on the species. They can often be much larger than the bird that built them. This nest type is often used by birds of prey, but also by other birds such as herons, cormorants, and grebes. 

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

Hans Splinter via Flickr

Some waterbird species build nests directly on top of the water. These floating platform nests are built out of aquatic vegetation, cattails, reeds and mud. They can be anchored to vegetation to keep them from drifting away and to conceal them from predators. The great crested grebe usually lays four chalky white eggs, which are around 5cm in length and 3.7cm in width.

Osprey (Pandion hallaetus)

Charlie Marshall via Flickr

Usually breeding near freshwater, the osprey creates large platform nests made out of sticks, turf, driftwood or seaweed. They can be built on rocky outcrops, artificial platforms, forks in trees or even utility poles. The nests can be as wide as two metres. Osprey usually lay 2-4 whitish eggs with reddish-brown splotches. The eggs are quite large at 6.2cm long and 4.5cm wide.


A few UK species create sphere nests, round structures that are completely enclosed apart from a small entrance opening. The entrance is usually on the side as it allows for protection from the rain. These nests can be made from mud, vegetation, or woven twigs and are commonly covered on the outside with moss, lichen or other camouflaging vegetation.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

gailhampshire via Flickr

These nests can be identified by shape but also by construction material. The long-tailed tit uses lichen, feathers, spider egg cocoons and moss to create its nest. The nests are usually suspended in gorse, bramble bushes or high up in tree branches. The lichen is usually used to line the outside as camouflage and the feathers line the inside as insulation. The long-tailed tit has one brood per season and lays between 6-8 eggs, but can lay as many as 15. The eggs are white with reddish-brown speckles.


Climate Challenges: What is COP26 and Why is it Important?

In the lead up to COP26 in November of this year, we are writing a series of articles looking at some of the toughest global climate crisis challenges that we are currently facing. But what exactly is COP26?

COP26 is the 26th annual summit of the United Nations climate change conference, taking place in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November 2021. The Conference of Parties, known as COP, is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its implementation. The UNFCCC is an international treaty acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic climate change and provides the framework for climate change negotiations.

Over 190 world leaders, along with thousands of government representatives, businesses, negotiators and citizens, will convene in Glasgow, Scotland, to update plans for reducing emissions. During these summits, countries set out Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to commit how much they will reduce their emissions. COP26 was delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year there will be updated plans for the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Suggested to be one of the most important climate crisis summits ever, COP26 must be divisive to limit global temperatures exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels ahead of the approaching 2030. 

The history

The convention began in 1992 during the ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro. The UNFCCC treaty was adopted two years later and has been ratified by 197 countries. The COP began meeting each year from 1995, to review the implementation of the UNFCCC and amend commitments and targets. This will be the first time the UK has hosted the COP.

In 2010, countries committed to limit the global average temperature increase to a threshold of 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels by signing the Cancun Agreements. Further research and several reports from sources such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that to avoid extreme impacts of climate change, the target should be 1.5°C. Thus, the Paris Agreement was created and entered into force in 2016. In 2018, the IPCC released its Special Report of Global Warming of 1.5°C, bringing together the findings of multiple climate scientists to present the steps needed to maintain global average temperature rise below 1.5°C.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement by UNclimatechange via Flickr
What does ‘1.5°C’ mean?

The 1.5°C pledge is the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels, with an upper limit of 2°C. This is an increase in the Earth’s average temperature, measured from a baseline average temperature between the mid-to-late nineteenth century, during the Industrial Revolution. The impacts of higher temperatures are already being felt, but it is thought that an increase above 1.5°C will be the tipping point for many natural systems.

An increase above 2°C could lead to:

  • Severe heatwaves at least every five years for around 1.7 billion more people
  • Several hundred million extra people exposed to poverty and other climate-related risks
  • An average sea rise of another 10cm
  • It could also cause coral reefs to decline as much as 99%
  • A decline in global fishery catches by another 1.5 million tonnes
  • 18% of insect species could be lost, along with 16% of plants and 8% of vertebrates
  • More erratic rainfall, with more intense rain on days it does fall, leading to up to 79 million people being exposed to the risk of flooding
  • Water stress will increase, with more frequent and longer droughts. Certain countries will see a significant drop in groundwater, and therefore a drop in productivity in crop and livestock farming
  • There may be an expansion in the range of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, increasing malaria transmission by 120%
Lake Mead at 39% of its full capacity in April 2021, a drop of 5% compared to April 2020. This body of water supplies 25 million people across Arizona, California, Nevada, and Mexico. Image by Felton Davis via Flickr.
The process

There is a long road to COP26, which started in December 2020 with the Climate Ambition Summit, co-hosted by the UN, UK and France. 75 world leaders announced new commitments. The next stage was the Climate & Development Ministerial in March 2021, where the challenges and priorities of implementing the Paris Climate Agreement were discussed. 

In April 2021, the Leaders Summit on Climate took place with 40 world leaders, convened by President Biden. Ambitious commitments were made by the US and Japan to reduce emissions by 2030. All members of the G7 were committed to net-zero by 2050. 

In May and June 2021, five events took place: 

  • Petersberg Climate Dialogue
  • P4G Seoul Summit
  • 12th Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) – 6th Mission Innovation Ministerial
  • the UN Climate Change Conference – Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies
  • and the G7 Leaders Summit

These all involved working to accelerate negotiation progress, developing public-private partnerships, promoting policies, and uniting leading democracies, to promote a greener future ahead of COP26. 

Between July 26th and 6th August, the Fifty-Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-54) and Working Group 1 Assessment Report 6 Approval Plenary takes place, providing key inputs from the Sixth Assessment Report into the negotiations at COP26.

In September 2021, four events will occur:

  • 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)
  • Climate Week NYC
  • Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition
  • Pre-COP26

These involve the discussion of the challenges of recovering from COVID-19, a chance to showcase climate action, and allowing 400 young people (between 18-29) to discuss negotiations. The Pre-COP26 is mainly a preparatory meeting, involving the discussion of key political aspects of COP26 negotiations, and a chance to find solutions for any outstanding issues. 

During October 2021, there will be: 

  • UN Biodiversity Conference, 
  • Global Investment Summit: Building A Green Future Together, 
  • World Bank Group/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings, 
  • G20 Leaders’ Summit. 

These final events discuss the action needed to reverse biodiversity loss, the investment opportunities of net-zero across the UK, and the representation of shareholders on the world economic outlook and other issues. Finally, shared challenges between G20 countries are addressed, focusing on recovering from the pandemic and addressing climate change. 

COP26 begins immediately after the conclusion of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November. 

The G7 Leaders’ Summit 2021 by via Flickr
General goals:

The general goals of COP26 are to:

  1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  3. Mobilise finance
  4. Work together to deliver

To achieve these, countries must quickly phase out coal, reduce deforestation, increase the speed of the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewables. To adapt better, counties must protect and restore their ecosystems, and increase defences, resilient infrastructure and effective warning systems to avoid loss of lives, homes and livelihoods. Developed countries must mobilise at least $100bn (£71.7bn) in climate finances per year, with international financial institutions playing their part. Finally, the Paris Rulebook (a set of rules to make the Paris Agreement operational) must be finalised and there must be an acceleration in action to tackle the climate crisis, especially through the collaboration of governments, civil society and businesses. 

UK goals

The UK government announced in November 2020 a £12billion government investment towards a 10 point plan:

  1. Advancing offshore wind
  2. Driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen
  3. Delivering new and advanced nuclear power
  4. Accelerating the shift to zero-emission vehicles
  5. Green public transport, cycling and walking
  6. ‘Jet zero’ and green ships
  7. Greener buildings
  8. Investing in carbon capture, usage and storage
  9. Protecting our natural environment
  10. Green finance and innovation

There are some success stories in the UK’s fight against climate change, with emissions down 49% since 1990, with the strongest record in reducing emissions over the last decade in the G20. We are the world leaders in offshore wind energy, with the power sector only accounting for 13% of all territorial emissions within the UK. Our Climate Change Act of 2008 was the first of its kind. 

There has been little progress in cutting emissions outside of the energy sectors, however, stifling our process to achieving the ambitious targets of a 78% reduction by 2035. Further plans, such as airport and road expansions and new oil and gas exploration within the North Sea, undermine the UK’s position as one of the leaders in the fight against climate change. 

One key pledge is to protect 30% of the UK for nature by 2030. When it comes to the number of species that have been lost, the UK ranks bottom among the G7 countries and is in the lowest 12% of 240 countries and territories. In 2019, it was reported that 41% of species within the UK were in decline and it is estimated that only 5% of the land is considered healthy habitat. 

  • COP26 is a summit of the United Nations climate change conference, responsible for monitoring and reviewing the UNFCCC and its implementation. 
  • The aim is to limit the increase in global average temperatures to below 1.5°C (with an upper limit of 2°C)
  • The road to COP26 involves 17 summits, conferences, and meetings over 11 months, leading up to the COP26 event hosted by the UK in November
  • The UK government has made advances and big promises to tackle climate change, but certain plans are undermining their efforts and may be setting the wrong example ahead of COP26.
Useful resources:

Hayhow D. B., et al., 2019. The State of Nature 2019. The State of Nature partnership.

RSPB. Biodiversity Loss: The UK’s global rank for levels of biodiversity. Retrieved from:

HM Government, 2020. The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. Retrieved from:

Stroud, D. A., et al., 2021. International Treaties in Nature Conservation: A UK PerspectiveBiodiversity Press

The official website of COP26:

The NHBS Guide to Snorkelling

Snorkelling is a great summer pastime and a brilliant way to experience many amazing species that inhabit our oceans. The inshore coastal environment is incredibly diverse and full of life, so there’s a chance you might see something different every time you snorkel! Depending on when and where you swim, you may even be able to see some creatures you recognise from rock pooling and learn how they behave when the tide is in.

Planning a trip

When planning a snorkelling trip, there are several important factors to consider. Firstly, it is important to familiarise yourself with the area you plan to snorkel in. To ensure your safety, make sure that there is constant, safe access to and from the sea, and that the water is clean enough to swim in. An understanding of potentially harmful species you might come across is also important.  For instance, blue-green algae (which is actually a type of bacteria) can lead to illnesses in humans, and others, such as the Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis), have very painful stings that could ruin your trip.

A big factor to take into account is the weather. Rain, wind and cold weather can all impact the quality of your snorkelling trip. From reducing visibility to causing dangerous conditions, the weather should always be taken seriously. Plan to snorkel on a warm, clear, calm day and make sure to continuously monitor the weather during your swim. Be careful not to swim at midday on a hot day either, if you are particularly sensitive to the sun.

Checking the water temperature is important, as it allows you to plan what you’ll need to wear and how long you should be in the water. You should aim to limit your exposure to colder water as it can lead to cold water shock and hypothermia.

Finally, the tide. It is best to swim as close to high tide or low tide as you can. Swimming in a changing tide can be tiring and can reduce the clarity of the water. High tide often offers the clearest water and allows snorkelling access to areas previously too shallow to swim in. It can also be safer in some areas: the increased volume of water could allow for greater space between you and any sharp rocks or reefs on the sea bed. This does mean that it may be too deep in other areas to clearly see the seafloor, so you might have to repeatedly dive down. Also, after high tide, the tide will begin to go out. This can be dangerous for swimmers, especially for those in areas with strong tidal currents, as you can be dragged further out to sea.

At low tide, you can snorkel further offshore, meaning you may see more species. However, certain areas closer to shore may be too shallow for safe snorkelling. The current will be in-bound after low tide, so you won’t be pulled out to sea, but you may be pushed into dangerous inshore areas. It is best to research the currents and coastal geography of the area before beginning your trip!

Check out our collection of tide times guides, as well as a few of our snorkelling guides.

Equipment and method

There are several key pieces of equipment needed for snorkelling and a few extras that can be useful. A snorkel and mask are obvious, but a pair of fins can help you swim for longer without tiring. They can also be helpful in stronger or unexpected currents. A wetsuit or rash vest is advisable for colder water temperatures, as are wetsuit shoes, gloves, and hats to help to keep you warm and protected in the water. A life jacket is a vital piece of gear to keep you afloat if you find yourself in danger or too tired to keep swimming.

Other equipment that you may want to bring are an underwater camera or a waterproof case for a phone. Dive slates or waterproof notebooks will help you keep track of everything you have seen.

To minimise disturbance while snorkelling, keep your distance from any animal you see and make sure not to step on or touch anything on the sea bed, as this habitat can be fragile. When diving down, be careful how you swim and return to the surface; kicking too hard can disturb any sediment below, reducing water clarity. This isn’t great for you as it can limit what you’ll be able to see, but it can also impact marine life, particularly corals and seaweed, as it reduces the amount of light that reaches them.

What could you see?

Spider Crab (Maja squinado)
heartypanther via Flickr
Velvet Swimming Crab (Necora puber)
gordon.milligan via Flickr
Common Lobster (Homarus gammarus)
gordon.milligan via Flickr
Candy Striped Flatworm (Prostheceraeus vittatus)
Peyman Zehtab Fard via Flickr
Spiny Starfish (Marthasterias glacialis)
Bengt Littorin via Flickr
Lesser-Spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula)
heartypanther via Flickr
Plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)
Danielle via Flickr
Greater Pipefish (Syngnathus acus)
heartypanther via Flickr
European Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)
Brian Gratwicke via Flickr
Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita)
Katya via Flickr
Common Eelgrass (Zostera marina)
Isle of Man Government via Flickr
Oarweed (Laminaria digitata)
far closer via Flickr


The NHBS Guide to Beachcombing

Beachcombing involves searching along the shoreline for interesting, valuable or usable objects. It’s not a new activity; the first use of this word in print was in 1840! Originally the intention of beachcombing was to find and sell objects of value washed up on the coast. Now, it is more of a recreational activity and there is a long list of natural and manmade curiosities that can be found.

Beachcombing is a simple activity that you can do anytime you are at the beach. The best approach is to find the tideline, usually indicated by a ‘line’ of washed-up material such as seaweed. It is best to check the tide times and visit at low tide. Many people also recommend visiting after a storm, as the stronger waves may have washed up more items.

There are several equipment options that may be useful to take with you, including a hand lens, specimen pots, and a camera. You should also bring a bag for any items or litter you collect, as well as gloves and hand sanitiser, plus wear weather-appropriate clothing and sensible shoes. A guidebook to help identify the items you may find would be helpful.

What could you find?


Mermaid’s purse

Skate egg case by Kyle Harts via Flickr
Lesser-spotted catshark egg case by Martyn Fletcher via Flickr

These are the egg cases of sharks, skates, and rays (class Chondrichthyes). They can often be found along the tideline tangled in the seaweed. They come in many different shapes, sizes and colours, depending on the species. Not all Chondrichthyans lay these egg cases, as some give birth to live young. Those that do lay eggs often do so on the seafloor to hide them from predators and to keep them from floating away until they’ve hatched. The exact species can be hard to identify, but there is an online guide that may be useful.

Marine worm tubes

Keel worm tubes by Kevin Walsh via Flickr

Several species of marine worms form calcareous tube structures on rocks, pebbles and shells. These tubes are white, irregularly curved and are a triangular shape when first made. Over time, they can become eroded to two thin white lines. They’re common across our coasts, but rarer finds are objects covered in hundreds of these tubes.

By-the-wind Sailor (Velella velella)

By-the-wind sailor by Philip McErlean via Flickr

This species may look like a jellyfish but it’s actually a hydrozoa. It is known by many names, such as sea raft, purple sail, or little sail. This species is often mistaken for the Portuguese man o’war, but its sting is much less painful to humans. Often spotted around the UK coastline, particularly after a storm, the by-the-wind sailor can be an interesting sight while beachcombing.

Common Whelk eggs (Buccinum undatum)

Common whelk eggs by Les Chatfield via Flickr

The common whelk is a large marine gastropod found along the shore of the UK. The empty egg cases, formed in a ball, can often be found washed up on beaches during the summer. They have several colloquial names, including sea wash balls, egg clouds and fisherman’s soap.


Fossil on beach by Matthew Anderson via Flickr

Fossils are physical records of history and one of the main attractions for many beachcombers. Very simply, fossils are formed when organisms are buried in sediment, and as this sediment becomes compacted by heat or pressure, it turns to rock, leaving behind the exact shape or an impression of an organism.

Shark tooth fossil by Virginia State Park via Flickr

There are several beaches, such as Charmouth in Dorset, where fossils are more likely to be seen, but they can be found on any shoreline. There are several guides on how to safely and sustainably search for fossils. The main guidance is to never hammer at cliffs (as they can be unstable), be careful around fragile habitats, and limit the amount of damage you do when extracting fossils. It is better to leave a fossil uncollected than to destroy the area it is held in.


Seashells by Bob Peterson via Flickr

Seashells are the hard, protective outer layer of marine invertebrate species. Empty shells often wash up on beaches and shells from molluscs, barnacles, sea urchins, and crabs can all be found on the shoreline. As they are primarily made from calcium carbonate, seashells can be used in the production of lime. They’re also used in art, as poultry feed, musical instruments, and play a part in religion and spirituality. Throughout history, they’ve been used as decorative items, tools and currency.


Cuttlefish bone by Anna Gardiner via Flickr

Also known as a cuttlefish bone, the cuttlebone is a hard and brittle structure that forms an internal shell in all cuttlefish (order Sepiida). They can be found along the coast and have several historical uses. They were ground up to make polishing powder, which was used by goldsmiths and added to toothpaste. Cuttlefish bones were also used as an antacid. Today, they are more commonly used as a dietary supplement for pets such as birds, reptiles and shrimp, as they are rich in calcium.


Sadly, you may also find a huge variety of manmade items on the beach. While beautifully painted tiles, sparkling sea glass and ancient treasures may be a highlight of your beachcombing trip, you are far more likely to see washed up fishing gear and plastic.

Sea glass by Sharon Mollerus via Flickr

Fishing gear

Bo Eide via Flickr

Dumped fishing gear, both intentionally and accidentally, is thought to be the biggest contributor to marine litter. One study found that 70% of macroplastics on the surface of the ocean was related to fishing. Another study found that 86% of the macroplastic in the great Pacific garbage patch was fishing nets. These often also wash up on our beaches, tangled together with many different manmade and natural items, and even wildlife.

Other plastics

F Delventhal via Flickr

Beaches can be covered in plastic, particularly after a storm. This is especially true if there is no action plan in place for keeping the beach clean. There are many volunteer groups you can join, or you can organise one yourself, that complete beach cleans. While beachcombing, bringing a bucket or bag with you to collect any plastic or litter is a great way to help your local environment and community.


The NHBS Guide to UK Bat Identification

Bats are elusive creatures; they are nocturnal, and so you are less likely to spot them compared to other UK wildlife, despite bats making up almost a quarter of our native mammal species within the UK. Some species have experienced severe declines, although current trends indicate that a few of these are now recovering. There is still much to learn about bats, however, and ongoing monitoring plays an important role in improving our knowledge of bat population trends.

Where to find them?

Bats are more likely to be found roosting in natural crevices, as opposed to building nests like birds or other small mammals. They can roost in trees, roofs, or outdoor cavities in buildings such as houses, as well as other natural or manmade structures, such as caves and bridges. As they hibernate during the winter, bats are the most active between April and November, and the best time of day to watch them is at dusk. They’re found in many habitats, particularly woodlands, farmland and urban areas (such as gardens).

Identifying Bats:

There are 17 species of bats that have breeding populations in the UK. They are commonly identified by their calls, as the rhythm, frequency range and repetition rate varies between species. A bat detector can be used to easily identify individual bat species in the field; you can browse our range here. In this article, however, we will be looking specifically at the physical characteristics that aid in the identification of 11 of our more common bat species.

Their size, colouration, nose shape, and the size and shape of their ears are helpful features to look at when identifying them by sight. More complicated identification features include the presence and size of the post calcarial lobe, a lobe of skin on the tail membrane, and the length of the forearm.


The most common species, and the ones you’re most likely to see, are pipistrelles. There are three species, the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus), the soprano pipistrelle (P. pygmaeus), and the Nathusius’ (P. nathusii), with the first two being the most common and widespread of all UK bat species.

Common pipistrelle by J P via Flickr
Soprano pipistrelle by I. Watson Loyd

ID notes: All three species look very similar, with dark brown fur, a paler underside, and a darker mask-like pattern around the face. Nathusius’s pipistrelles are rarer, and slightly more easy to tell apart due to their lighter underside, larger body size, and furrier tail.

Size: 3.5-4.5cm in length (Nathusius’: 4.6-5.5cm)

Wingspan: 20-23cm (Nathusius’: 22-25cm)

Great and Lesser Horseshoe Bats

Latin names: Rhinolophus ferrumequinum and R. hipposideros

Lesser horseshoe bat by Alexandre Roux via Flickr
Great horseshoe bat by Nils Bouillard via Unsplash

ID notes: Both these species have a fleshy nose shaped like a horseshoe. The lesser horseshoe is much smaller, with greyish-brown fur on its back and a white underside, while the greater horseshoe is larger and has more of a reddish-brown colouration on its back and a cream underside.

Size: Lesser: 3.5-45cm in length, Greater: 5.7-7cm in length

Wingspan: Lesser: 20-25cm, Greater: 35-40cm

Whiskered Bat:

Latin name: Myotis mystacinus

Whiskered bat by Gilles San Martin via Flickr

ID notes: The whiskered bat is quite difficult to distinguish as they are visually similar to Brandt’s bats. They have brown or dark grey fur with gold tips, and a lighter grey underside. They have a concave posterior edge to their tragus, the piece of skin of the inner ear in front of the ear canal, whereas Brandt’s bats have a convex posterior edge.

Size: 3.5-4.8cm

Wingspan: 21-24cm

Daubenton’s Bat

Latin name: Myotis daubentoniid

Daubenton bat by Gilles San Martin via Flickr

ID notes: This bat has brown fur, a paler underside that appears silvery-grey, and a pink face. This species is most likely seen around water as they forage for small flies above and on the water’s surface.

Size: 4.5-5.5cm

Wingspan: 24-27cm

Brown and Grey Long-eared Bats

Latin name: Plecotus auratus and P. austriacus

Brown long-eared bat by Javier Ábalos via Flickr
Grey long-eared bat by Alexandre Roux via Flickr

ID notes: These bats, as their names suggest, have very long, large ears which can be almost the same length as their bodies. These species look very similar, with greyish-brown fur, although the grey long-eared bat has a darker face.

Size: Brown: 3.7-5.2 cm, Grey: 4.1-5.8cm

Wingspan: Brown: 20-30cm, Grey: 25-30cm

Natterer’s Bat

Latin name: Myotis nattereri

Natterer’s bat by I. Watson Loyd

ID notes: The Natterer’s bat has a bare, pink face and light brown and grey fur on its back, with a paler underside. Its ears are quite long, and it has bristles along its tail membrane.

Size: 4-5cm

Wingspan: 24.5-30cm

Bechstein’s Bat

Latin name: Myotis Bechsteinii

Bechstein’s bat by I. Watson Loyd

ID notes: The Bechstein’s bat has long ears which, unlike the barbastelle’s, do not meet at the forehead. Their fur is reddish-brown with a paler, grey underside, and a pink face.

Size: 4.3-5.3cm

Wingspan: 25-30cm

All bat species are European protected species, therefore they and their breeding and resting sites are fully protected by the law. It is important to note that a licence is required for capturing and handling bats, as well as for any activity that may disturb a bat roost, including photography.