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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Bill Oddie: The bird-watching broadcaster talks pompous drummers and blasted leaf-blowers

You can waste a lot of time looking for a specific bird While some bird-watchers have a bird-watching bucket list, I don't, as the most memorable and enjoyable days out can't be predicted. I'll never forget one day in New York in early May, standing at the top of the Empire State Building. I spotted what at first looked like moths, but became a flock of migrating birds, travelling past me, at the same height as I was.

I came, I saw, I forgot the liquorice allsorts

I've been hiking around my Cotswold valley, getting to know my new surroundings. My goal was to find a Roman villa that lies in the middle of some woods relatively undiscovered (in the sense that nobody has thrown up a fence and started charging exorbitant entry fees to look at some rubbish illustrations). I suppose that I should have bought an Ordnance Survey map immediately, as this would have greatly improved my chances of discovering the ruin. Unfortunately, I have always equated people with Ordnance Survey maps with the sort of types I wouldn't leave alone with my children.

Book review: Four Fields, By Tim Dee

From the Fens to Chernobyl, this tour of turf shows the skills of a gifted, if sombre, naturalist

Horrified birdwatchers see rare White-throated Needletail killed after it flies into a wind turbine

Sightings of the White-throated Needletail are incredibly rare in the UK so when one was spotted on the the Isles of Harris it caused quite a stir

All of a twitcher! Rare Pacific swift sparks chaos in Trimley villages as hundreds of birdwatchers descend to catch a glimpse

Police were called to a nature reserve after hundreds of twitchers descended to catch a glimpse of a rare bird.

One of the five cuckoos being tracked has decided to stay in France

Album: British Sea Power, Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)

It's almost boring: yet another excellent British Sea Power album.

Walk on by: Buddhist monks on their way to a monastery in Bhutan

My life in travel: Angela Rippon

'If there's something to see, I'm there'

So many shades of grey – but none is lovelier than this bird’s

The shrike is a scarce winter visitor to Britain, so keep your eyes peeled

Backyard twitchers chart decline of 44m birds

Britain's bird population has plummeted by 44 million in four decades, according to a study carried out with the help of volunteer ornithologists.

Red kite: Once abundant across much of the UK, this spectacular bird of prey is making its way back thanks to a series of highly successful reintroduction projects. Up 575 per cent to 1,600 pairs
(1995-2010 figures)

Backyard ornithologists chart disappearance of 44m birds

The UK's bird population has plummeted by 44 million in four decades, according to a study carried out with the help of volunteer ornithologists.

Beat that: Kandyan drummers liven up the streets

Where to go in 2013: Sri Lanka

Why go in 2013? Serenity returns to Serendib

Tom Gullick, left, with bird guide Frank Lambert, after spotting the Wallace’s fruit dove in Indonesia

British bird brain is the first to pass milestone

It took him until he was 81, but a veteran British birder has become the first person in the world officially to see 9,000 species.

World's greatest birdwatcher sets a new record – then hangs up his binoculars

Former naval officer spots 9,000th species in Indonesia

Countyfile: Suffolk

Take the Sailor's Path for a taste of Aldeburgh
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn