Private landowners make better conservationists

Matt Ridley

The Duke of Norfolk is best known for presiding over the coronation as hereditary Earl Marshall, but what really gets him excited is a native farmland bird, the grey partridge. Nearly 20 years ago he was appalled to learn from the veteran ecologist Dick Potts that the species was down to its last three pairs […]

Blue tits vs willow tits: a lesson in subsidies

Matt Ridley

I last saw a willow tit on my farm about a year ago. I’m searching for them again this spring, listening for their ‘chair chair’ calls, but I am worried that they may be extinct here. They are dying out everywhere: down by 92 per cent nationwide in the 50 years from 1967. And the […]


What’s killing the birds

Matt Ridley

If you are a bird, any kind of bird, the current pandemic of avian influenza rampaging through your kind is far more terrifying than anything the hairless apes on the ground below experienced in 2020 and 2021. Britain’s seabirds – guillemots, gannets, gulls, kittiwakes and skuas – have been hardest hit because they breed in […]