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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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A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice