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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Charities call on Londoners to help save the 'Cockney Sparra'

The chirruping of the cockney sparra was once commonplace, but now, ten years since a study found that the bird was on the verge of extinction in the capital, charities are calling on Londoners to help save it.

Cassie’s cartoon depicting the escapers, with himself left behind; below, Richard Murray’s portrait of Cassie

Alexander Cassie: Bomber pilot who helped forge false papers for 'The Great Escape'

Flight Lieutenant Alex Cassie was one of the forgers whose painstaking work made possible the Second World War prison camp break-out that became known as "The Great Escape."

Rare great white egret chick hatches in UK for first time

A great white egret chick has hatched in England, making a new breeding bird record for the UK, Natural England has said.

Symphonies of natural sounds: A Macaw juvenile in flight

The Great Animal Orchestra, By Bernie Krause

This musician-turned-naturalist finds via his fieldwork that calls and cries can be matter of wild life and death.

<p>1 Bresser Junior Kids</p>
<p>£9.95, conrad-uk.com</p>
<p>These children's binoculars have a tempered-glass finish, so the lens won't break if they slip from little fingers, and x6 magnification.</p>

The 10 Best binoculars

1 Bresser Junior Kids

£9.95, conrad-uk.com

These children's binoculars have a tempered-glass finish, so the lens won't break if they slip from little fingers, and x6 magnification.

Population numbers for the robin have increased by 49 per cent since 1970

Robins revel in warmer winters

Populations of the festive favourite soar, but not so for its fellow red-breasts

Summer visitors top list of fastest-falling bird populations

Concern for the fate of Britain's migratory birds has deepened with the disclosure that eight out of the 10 most rapidly declining UK bird species are our summer visitors from Africa.

It's all in the mix: Club legend Gaz Mayall's cave of wonders

Ten thousand records vie for space with primitive art, countless instruments and esoterica 'no one else would want'

Warm dry spell bad for foraging birds

The hottest April on record has made it hard for some garden birds to find food to rear their chicks, wildlife experts have warned.

Gear guide: Outdoor excellence

The insider: How to do crafts (even if you're a needle novice)

When I was small, my grandma tried to teach me to crochet. The memory of the ensuing "Cant do it!" tantrum remains embarrassingly vivid. If, like me, the idea of making your own appeals, but the sight of needles makes you sweat, read on...

Birdwatchers of Britain, your hour has come

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch takes place next weekend, a great chance for us all to get involved. David Randall explains how it works

Conservationist tracks bird family struggling to survive

A British conservationist has become the first individual to view all 32 of the extraordinarily beautiful family of birds know as Pittas in the space of one year, as part of a drive to save many of them from extinction.

Album: Dan Haywood's New Hawks, DHNH (Timbreland)

Dan Haywood is a PSOW (poet/singer/ornithologist/whatever) and this epic 32-song album arises from the labour of slogging around rural Scotland, checking out the birds and meditating on the strangeness of life.

My life in travel: Bill Oddie

'New York City is a great place for birdwatching'
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness