Monthly Archives: November 2013

How much is a falcon worth?

The statue of a bird used in the film The Maltese Falcon has been sold at auction for $4 million. Makes you wonder if there’s something in this natural capital, ecosystem services thing after all, if one falcon can be worth $4 million, right?

Unpaid internships in conservation

Based on this great blog by Lewis Spurgin, here are a few thoughts on the issue of unpaid internships in UK-based conservation organisations. Unpaid internships are completely unacceptable for one simple reason: they mean that those who can afford it (or usually whose parents can) have a greater chance of getting experience and therefore a job. Even when accommodation is provided, usually parents end up backing their kids up. Mine certainly did and I’m very privileged for it. Or we’re saying […]

Tanjung Puting bird list

I just spent three days travelling by boat through the incredible Tanjung Puting National Park, in Southern Indonesian Borneo. The birds I saw on the trip were: Crested serpent eagle Little egret Storm’s stork Stork-billed kingfisher Grey-and-buff woodpecker Lesser green leafbird Brahminy kite Black-shouldered kite Black-sided flowerpecker Edible nest swiftlet House swift Asian paradise flycatcher Hill myna Black-and-red broadbill Slender-billed crow Asian black hornbill Grey-rumped treeswift Black-naped monarch Striated heron Long-tailed parakeet Other wildlife highlights included: Orangutan Southern Bornean gibbon […]

Whether you vote or not, go birdwatching

Originally posted on Mark Avery’s blog, on 14 November, 2013. In the recent spat between Russell Brand and Robert Webb about politics, voting and revolution, one key element seems to have been forgotten. What role is there for birdwatching? By this I partly mean, will the post-revolution, empowered and engaged citizenry of tomorrow, who have thrown off the manacles of their fawning political overlords (never anything more than branded and packeted corporate puppets), still find the time to take up binoculars and dabble in a […]

Different types of evolution

Perhaps certain human behaviours come from our evolutionary past. Perhaps we’ve evolved to be selfish, or men have evolved to protect and provide. But there are more kinds of evolution than just the biological kind. There’s cultural and social evolution too. And these have given us access to different ways to behave that challenge our biologically programmed behaviours – compassion, cooperation, generosity. Let’s remember that we don’t always have to follow the biologically evolved path, even if that feels like the easiest […]

Nick Clegg’s environment speech

Yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister gave a speech on the environment and the climate. We’re yet to hear a speech from David Cameron on these issues, but it was good to hear the leader of the junior coalition partner recognise that Government silence is neither acceptable nor desirable. He had many things to say, some of them good, others not so good. Here they are, in no particular order. 1. Mr. Clegg recognised that Government has perhaps been too quiet, […]

Valuing the future

A new paper, freely available here, which I first read about in this article, reveals that showing people pictures of nature can make them care more for the future. People were shown images of cities and images of nature and then played a game designed to test how much they valued future outcomes. The results show that participants who saw pictures of nature cared more about outcomes in the future than those who saw photos of urban settings. The paper […]

Accidental bucket list

Riding on the back of a moped at night along roads lit by streetlamps in Indonesia, grasping a large toaster-oven under one arm. This is one of the things that will be going on my accidental bucket list. This is not the sky-diving, swimming-with-dolphins list of dreams I one day want enough money, influence and time to accomplish and then impress my friends with. Instead, this is the list of beautiful, random occurrences that life throws at you unexpectedly, and […]

Reconnecting with the Natural World

This piece was originally posted on the Good Men Project. One of my earliest childhood memories is seeing a flock of starlings perched on the roof of a fast food restaurant while on a family summer holiday. Sitting in the back of the car I watched out the window as the evening sunlight turned their feathers iridescent green and purple. Their whirring and clicking made them sound like clockwork toys and certainly lived up to their collective name of a murmuration. Then […]


As I write this blog post I’m watching out of the window of a cafe in Palangka Raya, a city on the island of Indonesian Borneo. Outside, a carnival with people in costumes has built up around the roundabout. The colours, throngs of people and bright sunshine are making me feel happy. Indonesia is one of the countries predicted to be worst hit by the negative consequences of climate change, according to recent research. In his landmark climate change film, An […]