Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.

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Steatoda nobilis or false widow spider

False widow spiders: We're caught in a web of panic

If you believe the media, they're everywhere. The truth isn't half so terrifying

Nature Studies: My unexpected first encounter with The Prince in the forest

I was taken aback by its size and its exquisite, fresh aniseed fragrance

The holy grail of British moths is a real bolt from the blue

As a Lepidoptera lover I have longed to see it for years without success

Thousands of knot in flight are one of autumn’s great spectacles

A murmuration of these birds is among the most beautiful sights in Britain

Sorry, Sir David Attenborough. This isn’t the way to tackle over-population

Not the least unfortunate aspect of his remarks is that they will be used to attack a reasonable central thesis; that soaring population growth is a threat to the world itself

Nature Studies: Why Keats’s hedge cricket no longer chirrups autumn’s arrival

Crickets have gone from being among the most everyday insects, to become largely forgotten in Britain outside natural history circles

Nature Studies: The nature reserve with an atom bomb in it

Orford Ness, a promontory of vegetated shingle in Suffolk, is the nearest thing in Britain to Arizona, but it is richer environmentally than it looks

The winged rainbow that shakes you with its sheer beauty

Occasionally the natural world can trigger feelings in us that are so intense they are hard to explain. These are not everyday sentiments, and you might not experience them on your ordinary country walk – although then again you might, as I imagine Wordsworth saw his daffodils, and Shelley heard his skylark, in the course of what were probably, in other aspects, ordinary days.

A late summer marvel - the mysterious butterfly bush

Its long, vibrant flower sprays lure lepidoptera like nothing else

Nature Studies: Time again to bid a sad farewell to the darling birds of May

The swifts have gone from my part of the world, the south-west corner of London, and soon they will be gone from all of Britain

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