Wednesday 12 December 2018


It was an invitation too good to miss. Martin Collier, Norfolk’s beetle recorder, had heard about NWT Thorpe Marshes and was keen to visit the reserve to see what he could find. Could I show him around? Writing Christmas cards was postponed and the inevitable family conversations about beetle drives and popular beat combos from Liverpool were put to one side. It was a bright December morning when I joined Martin and recording colleague Steve Lane on the marshes.
A bright December day on NWT Thorpe Marshes.
Nemostoma bimaculata, a tiny harvestman. Bimaculata means two-spotted.
Beetle records on the reserve to date have been mostly relatively big, bright species on summer flowers. Surely an icy day in December was far from promising?  How wrong that was. The key technique was a fistful of damp marsh vegetation, often from a ditch edge, shaken through a coarse mesh sieve into a white bowl. The volume of invertebrates, once you had your eye in, was remarkable. Most were tiny: beetles of various shapes, almost microscopic harvestmen, pseudoscorpions. I photographed and noted names of bigger species; a longer list will drop into my inbox when time allows.

Paederus riparius, a rove beetle from ditch edge vegetation.

A tiny pseudoscorpion, seen in a specimen tube.
Planorbarius corneus, great ramshorn snail.
The enthusiasm was contagious and the expertise broad as they dipped into ditches, too. This revealed water beetles and the mix you’d expect from in a pond-dipping session: backswimmers, water boatmen, water slaters (like an aquatic woodlouse), snails, pea mussels and various larvae. They deduced that a big pile of earth included a moles’ nest, a place for a difference mix of bugs, including female mole fleas, Britain’s biggest flea. I looked into the bowl with interest then took a step backwards.

Tussocks of cocksfoot grass on the dry banks of the River Yare produced a different mix again, dominated by spiders. Many were immatures of familiar species, like nursery web spiders. Under one bit of bark there was a cluster of harlequin ladybirds, much as you might find in a house; under another were two red-and-black false ladybirds, fungus feeders.

False ladybird Endomychus coccineus.

The biologist J B S Haldane, when asked about for his take on creation vs. evolution, was fond of saying that, “God has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Martin and Steve might plead guilty to a similar fondness. The focus here was on wetland species but I’m sure they could enthuse any naturalist about the life within your garden compost heap. The reserve will be all the richer for their records.

Steve was still sifting vegetation as the sun was dropping behind the ridge beyond the river and I went home for a very late lunch.

Martin Collier and Steve Lane: an inordinate fondness for beetles.

Saturday 8 December 2018

Here comes the elephant (inspired by Namibia)

Here comes the elephant

For anyone missing the regular Namibia blogs, here's a little poem by Christopher Durdin, aged about 62½, inspired by elephants at waterholes in Namibia, November 2018. I had a little trouble with rhymes, which you might be able to help with (not necessarily out loud).

Here comes the elephant
Why did he stop?
Now I know why
Plop! Plop! Plop!

His name is Tiny
I know that sounds silly.
If you think his trunk’s long
Just look at his tusks.

African people
Live in huts.
Elephants break in
To steal their pizzas.

There goes the elephant
He’s done a bunk.
He’ll be back soon
He forgot his ... suitcase.

Elephant at Okaukuejo waterhole, Etosha.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Namibia, day 14 ... homeward bound

Day 14, 24 November – Walvis Bay to Johannesburg and home
With our flight at one o’clock there was time for a leisurely breakfast, packing and a final stroll along the strand alongside flamingos and large numbers of chestnut-banded plovers, or to look at common waxbills in local gardens. 
Greater flamingos close to the Strand at Walvis Bay.
Farewell to colourful Lagoon Loge
Having only one minibus available wasn’t a problem for the group as Walvis Bay airport was such a short distance away. Geoff ferried up those staying at Flamingo Villas first and was soon back at Lagoon Loge for the rest of us. We paused briefly for thousands of lesser flamingos at a former water treatment plant, a dense flock of them in the water behind a single black-necked grebe and many in the air as some people approached.

Airport in the desert, last view of Namibia (David Bennett).
Walvis Bay International is very much an airport in the desert. We had an uneventful wait there before walking to the plane for the flight to Johannesburg. In the meantime Geoff and Darrin went back to the garage in Swakopmund: repairs would take time so they returned to Cape Town in one minibus, leaving the other for the vehicle hire company to collect later. 

The group had a long wait at Johannesburg with plenty of time to walk between check-in and security areas and for shopping. The overnight flight back to the UK passed without incident and we arrived at Heathrow early on Sunday morning, 25 November.

Namibia, day 13 ... Walvis Bay and Namib Desert

23 November – Walvis Bay and Namib-Naukluft National Park
Pre-breakfast birdwatching was along the strand again, alongside early morning keep fit enthusiasts. Chestnut-banded plover was a new bird and there was a Caspian tern that many of us had missed yesterday. In the minibuses we went farther along Walvis Bay after breakfast. The large numbers of lesser flamingos in this area was quite a sight. Waders included thousands of avocets mixed with black-winged stilts, little stints alongside hundreds of curlew sandpipers and many chestnut-banded plovers, as well as those mentioned in yesterday’s account.
Lesser flamingos, Walvis Bay (Tim Hunt).
 We then drove into the Namib-Naukluft National Park: after nearly a fortnight in Namibia, in the Namib desert at last. It was hotter than the relative cool of the coast, but much less so than inland. We stopped to look at a range of flowering plants adapted to the harsh conditions, then tucked into the shade of small copse with a convenient picnic tables for the lunch Geoff had bought first thing.

The group split at this point with six going with Darrin to Swakopmund. On the edge of town, a wheel on the minibus came off. As vehicle issues go, solutions were close: a Toyota garage with a tow-truck was a few hundred metres away and a ride was quickly arranged to take the group into Swakopmund. A close harmony quartet was a highlight there.

The rest explored the desert some more, in particular to see the celebrated Welwitschias. These are odd, near-prostrate conifers that grow in the harshest of conditions with long tap roots and two odd, trailing leaves, almost solid to the touch. Their age is often measured in centuries, though there is some dispute about the oldest, perhaps 1500 years old. Visitors are directed to one area in particular, especially the biggest Welwitschia that’s behind a fence, and many are marked with a circle of stones to prevent trampling in the surface root area. Nearby we logged a range of specialist plants, including Namib hoodia and desert edelweiss; more are noted in this report’s lists.
Welwitschia mirabilis in the Namib-Naukluft National Park
We drove on to desert near Swakopmund with low, compact bushes. It took a while but we found Gray’s larks here, six in one area by the road with a tractrac shrike at the same place. We then met Darrin’s gang and somehow squeezed everyone in one minibus to return to Walvis Bay. The Lagoon Loge contingent joined the others for dinner along the road at Flamingo Villas.
Helicrysum roseo-niveum, 'desert edelweiss'.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Namibia, day 12 ... to coastal Walvis Bay

22 November – Erongo Mountains to Walvis Bay
The stone-edged pond and adjacent trees were alive with birds at breakfast time, including at least 22 rosy-faced lovebirds. 
Rosy-faced lovebirds gather near the Erongo Mountains waterhole (David Bennett)
The morning was spent travelling south and west towards the coast, with stops for fuel/coffee and to photograph wayside wild flowers near Omaruru: there must have been some rain in that area recently. These kept Sue and me puzzling over IDs (they'll be listed in the holiday report) as we travelled to the next stop, a collection of stalls selling gemstones and curios, former roadside stalls brought under one roof. Purchases were compared as we crossed the Namib Desert, the road part of a corridor of services including a railway line, water pipe and numerous wires, with several turns for the mines that are big business here.
Crotalaria argyraea (a lupin-like yellow pea) by the roadside. No, I'd never heard of it before, either.
We had lunch outside a nice café in Swakopmund, a cool sea breeze here quite a contrast with the hot interior. Our first Cape wagtail was easy to see as it walked around: there were more dozens more later. A brief drive around the town showed it to be prosperous and hints of the Germanic influence remaining here. It was a short way south then to Walvis Bay, where we were settled into two hotels within walking distance of each other opposite the strand that runs along the vast coastal lagoon. The tide was in but on the turn as we crossed the road and strip of grass: here Cape sparrows fed with the many Cape wagtails. White-fronted plovers were alongside familiar ringed plovers. A strange mammalian shape in the lagoon led to various suggestions: in fact it was a Cape fur seal. Distant greater flamingos flew across to close where we strolled as the tide receded and flocks of waders followed them in. The most numerous waders were bar-tailed godwits, plus grey plovers, sanderlings, turnstones and a few avocets. A count of 54 greenshanks was big by European standards.

Dinner was on the other side of the lagoon in The Raft, a super fish restaurant on stilts, like an end-of-pier establishment. There was one grey-headed gull with the numerous Hartlaub’s gulls; half a dozen white pelicans glided past the windows and settled on the adjacent mudflats. It felt like there was an end of holiday atmosphere as we ate, in a very positive sense. 
The Raft, Walvis Bay - a great place for the group's evening meal (Tim Hunt).

Namibia, day 11 ... bushcraft and rock art

21 November – Erongo Mountains
Ant-lion larva.
After a seven o’clock breakfast, the party split. Gill and John were driven in an open-sided vehicle. The rest of us were on foot led through the bush by guide Immanuel. It was proper bushcraft stuff. Tracks of aardvark and giraffe, and aardvark holes where we were advised not to stand in front of the entrance as they get taken over by all sorts, including warthogs that are prone to dashing out and sending you flying. There were piles of droppings, small to large, of springbok, gemsbok and giraffe, and leopard droppings like dog poo but containing lots of fur. Immanuel extracted an ant-lion larva from one of big patch of larval traps. 

Ant-lion larval pits, Erongo Mountains.
There were many dead giant millipedes, not a popular prey item as they contain strychnine. Ant trails led to holes surrounded by drying seeds, waiting to be taken underground. There were also the wiggly surface tunnels of harvest termites, which explained what the aardwolf seen on the Etosha night drive must have fed on in an area devoid of termite mounds. Trees included worm cure Albizia and a blue pea flower called cone or fish-poisoning bush Mundulea sericea.

Cool at first, the morning was heating up as we arrived at a series of granite outcrops. This was where we were shown rock art, mostly iron oxide red paintings by an unknown local tribe (though loosely linked to the San or bushmen) at least 2,000 years ago, possibly much older. Many depicted figures, elegant-looking stick people, though whether other colours have faded or washed away from more complex originals is unknown. Mammals were clearly antelopes, springboks we were told, and less clear eland and rhino.

Sand lizards with orange feet dashed around. A white-tailed shrike gave a plaintive whistle; with its rather short tail and black, white and grey appearance perhaps pied shrike would be a better name. There were orange-headed rock agamas, especially on the big boulders behind our chalets on our return.

Orange-winged dropwing, male, by Erongo's swimming pool.
Everyone pottered, chatted or rested before and after lunch. The concrete pond edge with stones attracted Namaqua doves, lark-like buntings and bright orange-winged dropwings, at least five males of the last also much in evidence around the edge of the swimming pool.

For our afternoon walk, Geoff led us through a simple trail, marked by white arrows, up and along the ridge of rocks behind the chalets. This took us to yet more rock paintings, including people, eland, giraffe and elephant, and into discussion about what they might mean and the treatment of the San in recent centuries.
San rock art, plainly a giraffe. See also the antelopes (springboks?) below.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Namibia, day 10 ... Etosha to Erongo Mountains

20 November – Etosha to Erongo Mountains
The only new bird on the pre-breakfast walk was a willow warbler; it was more a chance to remind ourselves of what a superb place Okaukuejo is for its wealth of birds, let alone the mammals beyond the perimeter fence. Cheryl photographed a pied crow eating a mouse; white-crowned and red-breasted shrikes were as tame as ever here. At the waterhole, watched over by one large elephant, the mammals came and went: zebras in a procession going out, a line of kudus coming in. Namaqua sandgrouse burbled as they flew around and a single cattle egret fed on the pool’s edge along with the usual wood sandpiper and a bunch of Cape turtle doves.
A pied crow eats a rodent (Cheryl Hunt).
It was mostly a day of travel, though punctuated with various breaks. The first of these was just off the tarmac road south out of Etosha National Park at Ombika waterhole, though it was more of a sunken spring, the water out of sight. Here four ostriches stood surrounded by impalas, zebras, gemsboks and springboks, and one warthog walked away.
A confiding southern white-crowned shrike at Okaukuejo.
Leaving Etosha we carried onto Outjo where there was a delightful coffee shop. Some in the group went into the Spar supermarket and several came away with purchases from the souvenir shop. Lunch at Omaruru was at a restaurant with a large garden that had various eccentric sculptures, wood-hoopoes flew through and a fine citrus swallowtail was nectaring on flowers. 

It was only on the last stretch towards our new base in the Erongo Mountains that we were back onto dirt roads. Apart from a brief pause for two Verreaux’s eagles, we kept going until we arrived at 15:45. We were greeted with a smile and a glass of orange juice and settled into our rooms overlooking the granite hills. There was time to potter, swim or watch white-winged starlings and mountain wheatears before gathering for drinks and a delicious four-course meal.
The dramatic backdrop at Erongo Mountains (David Bennett).

Namibia, day 9 ... martial eagle

Day 9, 19 November – Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo, day 3)

Double-banded courser (David Bennett).

There was no pre-breakfast programme on account of last night’s outing, so at 8:30 we drove roughly westwards. Shortly after the common fiscal (shrike) we arrived at an area of scrub with trees laden with sociable weaver nests. Two Kalahari scrub robins cocked tails as they fed on the ground and there was a spotted thick-knee tucked under a bush. 

We turned left at a sign for Galton Gate (which pleased Jeremy of the same name), soon finding a magnificent martial eagle standing on a prey item. It soon became apparent that the prey was a ground squirrel, which the eagle ripped apart and ate. Beyond there were two-banded coursers and in Darrin’s bus we later stopped by a closer courser by the road’s edge.

Martial eagle with ground squirrel prey (Tim Hunt).
The route took us through mopane scrub sprinkled with the distinctive shape of moringa trees, like an upturned root vegetable, reminiscent of a baobab. The first flush of oval leaves was just appearing. Farther on we studied a Stark’s lark. The return route went north via Etosha Pan, including loos within a fence, where there were many wildebeest in line-up of mammals similar to yesterday’s visit, plus two secretary birds tucked in behind a dense crowd of springboks. 

Etosha Pan stretches into the distance; mammals gather by the freshwater spring on its edge.
Every tree that offered shade had a cluster of mammals; one group in a shadow was a pair of gemsboks with a very young calf. Back at base, the Geoff Crane sandwich-making service went into action again.
Gemsbok (southern oryx) family in the shade. 
We returned to various waterholes on the afternoon drive. Initially they were quiet with lions asleep, apart from the one that got up to – it’s hard to put this delicately – have a crap and lie down again. But as the evening light kicked in the three bachelor lions started to move. We also enjoyed excellent views of delicate Burchell’s sandgrouse and several perched birds of prey on the return journey. After dinner and checklists, rhinos were back at the camp waterhole along with at least ten flying nightjars. From the sociable weavers’ nest, there was a constant squeaky sound – like ‘Sooty & Sweep’, as Helen observed. 
Two bachelor lions.

Monday 3 December 2018

Namibia, day 8 ... a sea of springboks

18 November – Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo, day 2)
Guineafowl swarmed into the Okaukuejo waterhole first thing; it was like looking at a free range Norfolk turkey farm. An elephant shrew appeared – not the first sighting behind the perimeter wall – and it watched as a crimson-breasted shrike dealt with a large moth. The camp’s fuel station forecourt was alive with birds, perhaps picking up insects attracted to lights left on overnight. Purple roller, Cape glossy starling, a single ruff, crowned lapwing, red-headed buffalo weaver, white-browed sparrow-weaver, laughing dove, white-crowned shrike: easy birdwatching.

Our drive took us north to the huge expanse of the Etosha saltpan. Geoff’s bus paused for at least 23 banded mongooses scampering along and a perched lanner. Darrin’s contingent saw a laughing dove land among seven red-necked falcons. The outcome was, well, that it wasn’t laughing.

Four lions by Etosha's main pan: second from left has a tracking collar (Cheryl Hunt).
The low, dry vegetation faded into the huge expanse of the saltpan, which appeared to stretch forever and be barren and desolate. But desolation was wide of the mark as we stopped by a fresh spring in the pan’s edge. Mammals were scattered everywhere, but the main focus was on lions, four lionesses with two cubs closest, two males farther over. One female with a collar walked right alongside the bus. Farther along there were more close lions, in particular a scruffy-looking young male. Cameras whirred again. Back by the spring, a lion dropped out of sight in the dune vegetation. A springbok approached, oblivious. The outcome: nothing happened as the springbok walked on, perhaps not close enough to the lion. For the lion, another would be along in a minute, no doubt.

"A lion cub decided to lie down in the road, surrounded by vehicles of various shapes and sizes" (David Bennett).
Scanning over the spring, the scene was alive with wildlife. Hundreds of Namaqua sandgrouse were coming and going from the water’s edge, calling continuously. Behind them were medium-sized springboks, behind them again on the vegetation’s edge larger gemsboks. On the saltpan were yet more mammals, in the haze impossible to identify. Sublime. Then the ridiculous: a lion cub decided to lie down in the road, surrounded by nine vehicles of various shapes and sizes. Ours, the tenth, headed back for breakfast.

The camp waterhole was a sea of springboks after our breakfast and a lanner swooped around, scattering small birds. There was so much activity that we stayed put rather than going for another drive. Zebras came into drink in waves, a steady stream coming in and others walked. A cluster of about 200 springboks stayed in the shade the whole time. A similar number of springboks was in and around the waterhole, regularly getting spooked by something and all bolting away from the water. A few kudu and gemsbok came to drink. 
A sea of springboks, here standing in the shade.
Then the elephants arrived. The 22 elephants included a range of sizes, and we saw or heard dust bathing, splashing around and occasional trumpeting. Lunch was again Geoff making sandwiches on his stoop before we settled down for the afternoon siesta.
Then the elephants arrived, a range of sizes, splashing around (Tim Hunt).
During the afternoon, Daphne came with a description and a photo of a red-headed woodpecker. Cardinal woodpecker, said Darrin, and Jeremy and I returned with Daphne to the trees near the swimming pool where it was still tapping away and with the help of a telescope agreed with Darrin’s ID.

Ten of us went on the optional night drive in a vehicle with three tiers of seats and open-sided into the hot evening air. Driver Gabriel took us north to the Etosha pan, where we’d been this morning. Two spotted hyenas were an early find. Scrub hares were the most numerous mammals, far more than by day, but also there were many springhares, bounding on large hind legs like a giant gerbil and balanced by a long, black-tipped tail. Everything else picked out by Gabriel’s red search light was like by day, only worse views, such as many springboks that seem to ‘pronk’ (spring) more than in the day, plenty of jackals active by night and lions by the pan. Soft drinks were handed out as we stopped by the lions: “Surreal”, said David. The star sighting was on the return: an aardwolf, running away but showing its hooped patterning. Blink and you’d miss it, but the rarity of the sighting was illustrated by Gabriel saying he hadn’t seen one for two or three months and he’s out most nights. The book says that their diet is almost exclusively termites, which struck as odd as there were no termite mounds in this area. That puzzle was explained later, while we were in the Erongo Mountains. We’d started the drive at 8pm and we were back just after 11pm
Burchell's zebras, waterhole at Okaukuejo, Etosha.

Namibia, day 7 ... lions and waterholes

Day 7, 17 November – Etosha National Park (Okaukuejo, day 1)
A simple pre-breakfast event: meet at the waterhole and stroll through the camp to breakfast (John and Gill joining us at the restaurant). Geoff picked up – literally – three sociable weavers bound together by string. Happily Darrin had his penknife and they were freed to join the throng. Their huge nests were all inside the camp, perhaps as there is plenty of grass for nest building, unlike the grazed land outside.

Sociable weavers' nest. Plenty of grass for nest-building inside the fence.
Sociable weaver close-up (Tim Hunt).

Our first stop on the morning’s drive on Etosha’s dirt roads was to see two male lions in the shade under a small tree. One of the lions, perhaps brothers, had a collar for radio tracking. In that tree was one then three greater kestrels, complete with white eye-ring (not eye as the book said), on or near a nest.

Another drive, another waterhole, the next with a small and obviously artificial pond nearest to where we’d parked our vehicles. Zebras squabbled, biting and kicking, both outside and inside the pond. 

"Zebras squabbled, biting and kicking" (Cheryl Hunt). 
Grey-backed sparrowlark, seen well at last and two Namaqua sandgrouse were added as we moved to a second artificial concreted pond, this one with ostriches and a Kittlitz’s plover. A third waterhole, called Olifantsbad, had attracted an ostrich crèche with 20 chicks of two sizes and a steppe buzzard. Geoff’s bus reported icterine warblers, brown-chested snake-eagle and ground agamas. 
Ostrich crèche (Cheryl Hunt).
Lunch was sandwiches made and collected on Geoff’s stoop. In the meantime Jeremy was finding shaft-tailed whydahs in a tree. During our siesta we kept an eye on these and other birds, encouraged by water provided by Helen in plastic containers reused from the recycling bin. Over by the park’s shop was the best place to find butterflies, albeit a limited range. As well as the inevitable African monarchs, Jeremy photographed hintza blue on a patch of heliotrope, there were many sooty blues here and in grassy areas and a white was probably African migrant. 
African monarch.
Greater kestrel (Jeremy Galton).
The afternoon drive was south on tarmac towards the National Park’s exit, before turning into an area of dry grassland and open scrub. There were good views of perched birds of prey, black-shouldered kite and greater kestrels especially, any number of northern black korhaans and our first spotted thick-knees. The final stretch was past where the lions were this morning. Two females were lying on the edge of the road and a cub was nearby. That’s how it was as Geoff’s bus left. 
Black-shouldered kite (Jeremy Galton).

For Darrin’s bus, shortly afterwards, there was a moment of drama. The two male lions seen this morning had sprung into the scene and were contesting a springbok just caught. And there was a sighting of caracal as the sun was going down. Both buses and various other vehicles made into Okaukuejo Camp just before the gates were shut for the night.

I went back to my room during dinner and had to sweep out a scorpion that I saw slip inside under the door. At the waterhole there was a family party of elephants and the three black rhinos included a youngster that seemed to be suckling while it and mother were in the water. The five barn owls were there again and both nightjar species called. 

Saturday 1 December 2018

BBC Wildlife and plastic wrapping

Honeyguide has stopped advertising in BBC Wildlife until the magazine stops arriving in plastic wraps.

I still have the July 2018 BBC Wildlife in which it says: “Immediate Media Co (publisher of BBC Wildlife) is exploring non-plastic wrapping options for subscriber copies by looking at alternatives.” At first that seems positive … but then the same message has been in every magazine since, up to and including December 2018.

Every Honeyguider knows about the challenge to reduce the volume of single-use plastic. The BBC knows about it too. It was the BBC’s Blue Planet that gave momentum to tackling this issue. The excellent BBC programme Drowning in Plastic programme with Liz Bonnin this autumn added further weight to the campaign.

Immediate Media also publishes the RSPB’s Nature’s Home magazine. The RSPB, National Trust and Butterfly Conservation publications all come in compostable wraps. Easy to recycle paper envelopes are the other non-plastic option, used for the Honeyguide brochure, by some Wildlife Trusts and others.

I raised my concerns when I was approached about advertising in BBC Wildlife during the autumn. My advertising contact sent me a statement, suggesting I’m not the first to ask:

“Thanks for getting in touch with us about this.

Immediate Media hasn’t jumped in immediately to change their magazine wrappers because the company wants to source a genuinely sustainable, low carbon-footprint and non-environmentally damaging alternative to the recyclable plastic it is currently using, rather than choose something that might not be what it appears if you delve beneath the surface.

Some vegetable-based wrappers, for instance, can produce a lot of damaging methane and have a surprisingly high carbon footprint. There are other, more environmentally friendly solutions being produced in Europe, but there are apparently hardly any UK companies supplying them at the moment. Thoroughly studying what’s available is important and we are investigating our options.

We’re looking to change from the film we currently use, but it won’t necessarily be what other magazine publishers have chosen, and the intention will be to source it in sufficient quantity without adding to deforestation or air miles.
That may take longer but it will be worth it to be sure it is genuinely going to help the environment and not create other, different problems for it in the future.”

These are weasel words. I still have some RSPB contacts, and RSPB Nature’s Home editor Mark Ward kindly replied to say: “The current compostable wrap offers a good alternative and it took several months of research by the RSPB print and production team and considering all options both environmentally and financially, as well as ensuring the magazines arrive safely, before we were happy to make the switch on the adult membership magazine. The wrap we have … comes from waste products from the food industry (frozen chips).“

We can only guess what the magazine's real reasons are, but cost and resistance to change are likely to be key, especially if any change has to be agreed across the stable of BBC magazines.

I said to BBC Wildlife: “I have decided that Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays will not consider advertising in BBC Wildlife until the magazine stops arriving in a plastic wrap. I realise that as an occasional advertiser this has little impact, but it's a point of principle on my part.”

There is more single use plastic around than just magazine wraps, of course: it’s tough to avoid bringing a lot home from any supermarket shop, for example. Nonetheless, this kind of switch is an obvious quick win, a bit like boycotting plastic-stemmed cotton buds or drinking straws, or using reusable shopping bags.

BBC Wildlife magazine has a lot of good content. It also has a ‘contact us’ list on its welcome page and I invite other readers of the magazine to add their voice to Honeyguide’s.

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