The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Letter: Celebrated swamp

Sir: Simon Calder (The Traveller, 4 December) described the beach at Cairns in Queensland as "a tidal mudflat that looks plain swampy."

Top bird-watcher in world killed dies in bus crash

THE WORLD'S most famous bird-watcher, a globetrotting American woman who ticked off more species in her notebook than anyone else, has been killed in a road accident during a birding expedition.

Letter: Garden killers

Sir: Lucy Lawrence (Letter, 22 November) is right. Magpies hunt in groups of six or more hereabouts. Not only have bird boxes been broached and tits, robins and their fledglings eaten and blackbird nests similarly pillaged, but garden chairs have been torn into to remove stuffing and a tarred felt roof punctured in attempts to get at fledglings nesting under the eaves. They have multiplied remorselessly to harry and oust more welcome species, as well as damaging property. Who decides when a bird species no longer needs protection?

Twitchers flock to `bird sighting of the year'

BIRDWATCHERS FROM all over the country are flocking to a village on the Aberdeenshire coast to see a wading bird never before recorded in Britain.

Defiant Davies says: `I am bisexual'

THE FORMER Welsh Secretary Ron Davies yesterday said he was determined to carry on serving his constituents and the people of Wales, after admitting he was bisexual.

Frigatebird crash-lands at seaside rescue for frigatebird

A SPECTACULAR tropical seabird is being nursed back to health at a secret location after crash-landing in British waters. It is the first time one of the birds has survived the journey from the Caribbean.

Real living: Love and brothel creepers

Teddy boy shoes, especially when worn without socks, are much more to Deborah Levy than mere footwear; they represent beauty and truth, and the knowledge that love is fleeting

Property: Hot Spot - Clifton downs - Hip, sharp and Bristol fashion

DOCKLANDS VERSUS Clifton? Clifton versus Docklands? Restricting options to these admittedly obvious alternatives is unnecessarily narrow and ultimately self-defeating.

Rowing: Redgrave still needs challenge

BRITAIN FINISHED third in the medal table at the close of the World Rowing Championships in Cologne yesterday but with no additions to the three golds and one silver taken on Saturday. The team performance was, as for the past 14 years, underpinned by the achievements of Stephen Redgrave, who added an eighth World gold to his four Olympic successes, this time with coxless four partners, Tim Foster, James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent.

Travel: Scything through the seaside

Windsurfing is not as tricky as you might think. Eric Kendall catches the coastal breeze

New bird found in Ecuador jungle

ROBERT RIDGELY was hiking down an Ecuadorean mountain path last November when he and a fellow ornithologist heard a strange call akin to an owl's hoot and a dog's bark.

Rural: Where there's muck...there's beaks.

Malcolm Smith reports from the nation's sewage farms, where all kinds of birds are circling and salivating

Science: A wing and a prayer

Extinction beckons for over 1,000 bird species, and it seems nature wants it that way, Peter Bennett investigates

Leading Article: Stop sitting on the fence, Tony, and stand up for townies

BRITAIN is an urban country. Its wealth is generated in towns and cities; there most of its people live and there they form their identity. Yet for them, still, the "countryside" is a strong and attractive idea. The reality is hugely mixed. For townspeople, it offers leisure. The native industry, agriculture, is one that pollutes and destroys. Large tracts of the country landscape are half-built, neither identifiably rural nor urban. Within the countryside there is a great diversity of forms of life. Is a village most of whose inhabitants decamp to the nearby town to shop and work and go to school country? Is a topography cherished and paid for by the tax money of townies really classifiable as rural?

Obituary: J. G. Williams

John George Williams, naturalist: born Cardiff 4 April 1913; Curator of Birds, Coryndon Museum, Nairobi 1946-66; married 1945 Dr Philippa Gaffikin (one son, three daughters); died Leicester 28 December 1997.
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Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

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