A tour of some of the world's most iconic and endangered species - and what we can do to save them. Climate change and habitat destruction are not the only culprits behind so many animals facing extinction. The impact of consumer demand for cheap meat is equally devastating, and it is vital that we confront this problem if we are to stand a chance of reducing its effect on the world around us. Our planet's resources are reaching a breaking point.
Charles Foster wanted to know what it was like to be a beast: a badger, an otter, a deer, a fox, a swift. What it was really like. And through knowing what it was like, he wanted to get down and grapple with the beast in us all. So he tried it out; he lived life as a badger for six weeks, sleeping in a dirt hole and eating earthworms. He came face to face with shrimps as he lived like an otter and he spent hours curled up in a back garden in East London and rooting in bins like an urban fox.
In 1865 a broken Admiral Robert FitzRoy locked himself in his dressing room and cut his throat. His grand meteorological project had failed. Yet only a decade later, FitzRoy's storm-warning system and 'forecasts' would return, the model for what we use today. In an age when a storm at sea was evidence of God's great wrath, 19th-century meteorologists had to fight against convention and religious dogma.
"Lightning from a blue sky"
Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn't want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn't want to think about his failed relationship with 'the one' or his potential for ruining a new relationship with 'the next one'. And he almost certainly didn't want to think about turning 40. And so instead he went birding. Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans.
For 20 years John Aitchison has been travelling the world to film wildlife for the BBC and other broadcasters, taking him to faraway places on every continent. The Shark and the Albatross is the story of these journeys of discovery, of his encounters with animals and occasional enterprising individuals in remote and sometimes dangerous places.
"Brilliant insight to wildlife and film-making."
An intriguing story of a place, a person and the garden she created. In 1988 Katherine Swift arrived at the Dower House at Morville to create a garden of her own. This beautifully written, utterly absorbing book is the history of the many people who have lived in the same Shropshire house, tending the same soil, passing down stories over the generations. Spanning thousands of years, The Morville Hours takes the form of a medieval Book of Hours.
An orchard is not a field. It's not a forest or a copse. It couldn't occur naturally; it's definitely cultivated. But an orchard doesn't override the natural order: it enhances it, dresses it up. It demonstrates that man and nature together can - just occasionally - create something more beautiful and (literally) more fruitful than either could alone. The vivid brightness of the laden trees, studded with jewels, stirs some deep race memory and makes the heart leap. Here is bounty, and excitement.
Max Hastings is best known as an acclaimed journalist and military historian. But what is perhaps less well known is his love of the countryside and its pursuits, above all fishing and shooting, which he indulges as often as he can escape his urban working environment.
"only good if you enjoy hunting, shooting and fishi"
His career as a naturalist and broadcaster has spanned nearly five decades and there are very few places on the globe that he has not visited. In this volume of memoirs David tells stories of the people and animals he has met and the places that he has visited. Over the last 25 years he has established himself as the world's leading Natural History programme maker with several landmark BBC series.
The inspiration for the BBC series of the same name. Fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College, to the young James Herriot 1930s Yorkshire seems to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But from his erratic new colleagues, brothers Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, to incomprehensible farmers, herds of semiferal cattle, a pig called Nugent and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo, James find he is on a learning curve as steep as the hills around him.
"Great story and narrator - terrible sound quality"
When Monty Don's golden retriever, Nigel, became the surprise star of BBC's Gardeners' World, inspiring huge interest, fan mail and even his own social media accounts, Monty Don wanted to explore what makes us connect with animals quite so deeply. In many respects Nigel is a very ordinary dog - charming, handsome and obedient, as so many are. He is also a much loved family pet. He is also a star. By telling Nigel's story, Monty relates his relationships with other special dogs in his life in a memoir of his dogs past and very much present.
"an absolutely brilliant book"
How do trees live? Do they feel pain or have awareness of their surroundings? Research is now suggesting trees are capable of much more than we have ever known. In The Hidden Life of Trees, forester Peter Wohlleben puts groundbreaking scientific discoveries into a language everyone can relate to.
"Well worth a listen"
The fifth volume of memoirs from the author who inspired the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. During his decades spent as a country vet in Yorkshire, James Herriot has seen huge advances in medical science, technological leaps, and a world irrevocably changed by war. Yet some things have always stayed the same - gruff farmers, hypochondriac pet owners, and animals that never do quite what you expect them to.
"Perfect cosy read"
The fourth volume of memoirs from the author who inspired the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small. Finally home from London after his wartime service in the RAF, James Herriot is settling back into life as a country vet. While the world has changed after the war, the blunt Yorkshire clients and menagerie of beasts with weird and wonderful ailments remain the same.
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again - a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son, and this ghost of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it - and how and why I walk myself.
From best-selling author Amanda Owen come more tales of life at Ravenseat, the remote Yorkshire hill farm she shares with husband Clive, eight children and 1,000 sheep. In A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess she describes the age-old cycles of a farming year and the constant challenges the family faces, from being cut off in winter to tending their flock on some of Yorkshire's highest, bleakest moors - land so inaccessible that in places it can be reached only on foot.
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast; there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon. His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story.
This is an audiobook for those who want to understand better how the water surrounding us affects our daily lives, how it imperceptibly but crucially shapes our actions and has shaped our landscape for millennia. It's for anyone who knows and loves our coast and who wants to understand, discover, surf or sail it better. Inspired by his own witnessing of the power of the sea through travelling around Britain's coastline in a panel van with his young family, William Thomson tells the story of the cycles of the sea.
Drawing upon a lifetime of scientific expertise and an abiding love of nature, Richard Fortey uses his small wood to tell a wider story of the ever-changing British landscape, human influence on the countryside over many centuries and the vital interactions between flora, fauna and fungi. The trees provide a majestic stage for woodland animals and plants to reveal their own stories.
"A Gem for Nature Lovers"
Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, award-winning writer Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham's canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. What happens when someone who has learned to observe her external world in such detail decides to examine her internal world with the same care?
The sequel to the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob continues the remarkable adventures of James and Bob showing - through new stories - how Bob's extraordinary street wisdom has shown James the meaning of friendship, loyalty, trust - and happiness. "Since Bob had appeared, I'd made huge strides in my life. For more than a decade I'd been a homeless drug addict. I'd been lost to the world and forgotten what was important in life. Now I'd got myself back on my two feet, but as I put the past behind me, I was still stepping unsteadily into the future."
"A Brilliant Sequel!"
At the age of 30, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney's wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.
In 2007, after 20 years of living in London, Kate Humble and her husband, Ludo, decided it was time to leave city life behind them. Three years later, now the owner of a Welsh smallholding, Kate hears that a nearby farm is to be broken up and sold off. Another farm lost; another opportunity for a young farmless farmer gone. Desperate to stop the sale, Kate contacts the council with an alternative plan - to keep the farm working and to run a rural skills and animal husbandry school alongside it. Against all odds, she succeeds.
"an amazing listen"
A few months of married bliss, a lovers' nest in Darrowby and the wonders of home cooking are rudely interrupted for James Herriot by the Second World War. James Herriot's fifth volume of memoirs relocates him to a training camp somewhere in England. And in between square pounding and digging for victory, he dreams of the people and livestock he left behind him.
"Calming Yorkshire at its best"
A must-have book for walkers, sailors and everyone interested in the natural world, How to Read Water unlocks the secrets of water in all its forms. Natural navigator Tristan Gooley imparts knowledge and teaches skills, tips and useful observations to help you navigate the landscape around you.
"Great read (listen)..."
Wherever we are, there are birds. And wherever there are birds, there is birdsong. It's always a pleasure (and a relief) to hear sounds that prove the world's still spinning: whether it's the sighing of migrating redwings on a damp October night, the twitter of swallows fresh in from South Africa in April, or the call of the cuckoo in May. Based on the scripts of BBC Radio 4's beloved year-long series, and distilling two lifetimes' knowledge, insight, and enthusiasm into this recording, Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss take you month by month through the year, and the changing lives of our favourite birds.
"Buy the hardback, download the original podcasts"
In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds and how it came about. Consider, as Ackerman does, the Clark's nutcracker, a bird that can hide as many as 30,000 seeds over dozens of square miles and remember where it put them several months later; the mockingbirds and thrashers, species that can store 200 to 2,000 different songs in a brain a thousand times smaller than ours; and the well-known pigeon, which knows where it's going, even thousands of miles from familiar territory.
Despite the association of peregrines with the wild outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J. A. Baker spent a long winter looking at and writing about the visitors from the uplands - peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them. Such luminaries as Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th century nature writing.