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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Travel Special: REMOTE POSSIBILITIES

Travel Special

Wildlife: Chaffinch is Europe's busiest bird

The chaffinch has emerged as the most prolific of Europe's 500- plus bird species. The distinctive bird with the white shoulder patches heads the list with 133 million breeding pairs.

Property: The brand new property boom that's gone sky-high

Their attractions include exposed beams, thatched roofs, reclaimed barn boards and baked clay tiles. No double glazing, though, and living tends to be open plan, but there are the communal gardens and - unless there is a squabble over vacant possession - the transaction is usually chain-free. Rosalind Russell takes a peek at bird houses.

Spiderman tames a two-horned monster

Tom Foulds used to be an engineer. Then he discovered his true love - creepy-crawlies. Colin Blackstock reports

All Souls: Green Channel

There is a quiet revolution going on. Bird-watching is becoming trendy - especially on holiday.

Something in the air for young birdwatchers

More than 90 countries are this weekend participating in the 1997 World Birdwatch.

Your holiday disaster: Bird-watching in Bulgaria, Peter Clarke fell victim to a snake in the grass

When I was 63 I went on a two-week package holiday to Bulgaria. It was my very first flight and I was making a solo bird-watching trip, as my wife would not go on a plane. I wanted to see some of the eastern European birds in their native breeding grounds.

Twitchers flock to see rare veery

Twitchers flock to see rare veery

Feathers fly in battle of the twitchers and the shooters

The prospect of an internationally important bird reserve lying next to a popular bird shoot was always going to try the patience of twitchers and shooters alike.

RSPB hops out of the birdbox

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wants to dump its "woolly-pullover, sandalled idealists" image and relaunch itself as a campaigning environmentalist organisation in a series of new poster advertisements.

A bird's eye view of the main players

It's been a wonderful winter for spotting garden birds. Our suburban bird table has been graced as never before with long-tailed tits, siskins, greenfinches and even the odd brambling. It has been the same all over the country. But from the birds' point of view, it's not been a good year at all.

Nature: Song thrush is top of the charts

The song thrush (below) is Britain's favourite singing bird and the robin the most beautiful, according to a MORI poll for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BBC Education, published yesterday. On the question of who has the best song, the blackbird came second to the song thrush, with the nightingale, skylark and robin joint third. As for which was the most attractive, the robin took first place followed by the kingfisher and the golden eagle. Runners-up included the blue tit, kestrel, barn owl (rarely seen these days after a steep decline in recent years), mute swan, magpie, blackbird and chaffinch.

Significant shorts : Twitchers' gale alert

Birdwatchers were yesterday on alert for rare birds blown off course to Britain and Ireland by gales.

Words: Interest

Some MPs seem to have been biting their pencils a good deal before making their contributions to the Register of Members' Interests, presumably not being certain just what is meant by the word. But the OED would have offered them 10 main definitions to choose from, including "regard to one's own profit or advantage; selfish pursuit of one's own welfare", which may or may not have been what Lord Nolan had in mind. He certainly wasn't thinking of fretwork or birdwatching, which are also interests.

OBITUARY : Sir William Wilkinson

William Wilkinson was notable in achieving a reputation as a nature conservationist and a principled businessman. His enthusiasm developed young and lasted his life; so too did his determination to put moral conviction and public service before private gain.
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Independent Travel
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
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
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