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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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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence