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Oceans and land
Somerset police dog praised for successfully tracking suspect
On the track to the moors
Initiative to improve sustainable fish labelling unveiled
Protection of grey wolves may be ended by Obama administration
RSPCA comes under fire for badger cull protests
The rain released from the parched ground that glorious earthy perfume
May's diverse wildlife finds hedgerows the perfect home
The pink-footed geese seemed restless, as if uncertain what they were doing
Study links insecticide use to invertebrate die-offs
Has the internet killed the Loch Ness monster?
Waitrose pledges to source all seafood from independently certified providers
It's the first time I've heard the chiffchaff's song this year
Edinburgh zoo's pandas help boost visitor numbers by 51%
Their bombastic majesties begin the nectar frenzy
Pandas have saved Edinburgh zoo from extinction but what for?
Insecticide spraying will be expanded to control pest caterpillar
This is the EU's best chance in a decade to reduce fish discards
Fish company investigated after salmon farm pollutes Scottish loch
Poachers kill 26 elephants at central African world heritage site
New to nature No 103: Tinkerbella nana
Sand martins dig tunnels in the dunes
World's tallest dam approved by Chinese environmental officials
Justin Bieber 'owes thousands' after leaving monkey hanging in Germany
A brief stillness before the damselfly's short life on the wing would begin
  Orange tip butterflies are so fragile, yet survive violent rainstorms intact
The rain relented, but not before the ragged edges of departing clouds had delivered a last, ferocious downpour, beating flowers beside the footpath into submission, leaving tall grasses flattened, stitchwort bedraggled and cow parsley umbels bowed under the bombardment.

It was by pure chance that we spotted the exquisitely camouflaged orange tip butterfly, roosting on a saturated lady's smock flower head with wings tight closed every green, white and golden wing scale miraculously, immaculately intact. How had it survived, when one direct hit from a raindrop travelling at terminal velocity might have bludgeoned it into the wet grass?

Other butterflies shelter from rain under leaves but orange tips often seem to choose to perch in the open, on flowers exposed to the full force of the downpour. I've several times watched their behaviour change when dark clouds begin to slide across the sun and the temperature drops, even before the first raindrops patter on the leaves. They are natural barometers in showery weather, settling on a flower, folding their wings tightly, aligning their antennae with the long axis of their body and presenting the smallest possible target to the oncoming threat.

When the shower has passed I have invariably found the butterfly unharmed. Poke one of these torpid orange tips gently and it will not stir, even though it might have been zigzagging through the flowers a few minutes earlier. Be more persistent and it might climb on to your finger, but it will not open its wings until the rain clouds have passed. Only the return of sunlight and warmth will revive it. Butterflies are the epitome of fragility and yet the behaviour of this species, when a sudden spring squall sent us running for the shelter of the trees, raised questions. Could it be that its ethereal lightness is the key to its survival, such that the rush of air ahead of a falling raindrop pushes it aside just enough to avoid a fatal impact?
Japanese firm stops selling endangered whale pet treats
Comment of the week: why rewilding 'the wild' isn't so wacky
Humaneness of badger cull to be judged on noise of dying animals
Jean-Jacques Annaud: 'People who make films are in danger every day'
An oystercatcher rises surreptitiously, suggesting that it has a nest nearby
Short-haired bumblebee queens hoped to boost UK population
Badger vaccination 'would be cheaper to implement than cull'
Atlantic puffin population is in danger, scientists warn
Jellyfish surge in Mediterranean threatens environment and tourists
Lord's Resistance Army funded by elephant poaching, report finds
Why did dinosaurs evolve feathers?
Why the celebrity status of badgers is a problem
'Badger-friendly' milk to be sold in just three UK supermarkets
Labour fails in attempt to stop badger cull with Commons vote
Orange tip butterflies are so fragile, yet survive violent rainstorms intact
A cetti's warbler bursts into violent exclamation
Tammy the anteater to greet fans in London Zoo late-night walkabouts
Cod stocks recover after years of overfishing
Are some animals more worth saving than others?
Thai police discover 14 albino lions in warehouse near Bangkok
White lion breeding at UK wildlife parks linked to 'canned hunting'
Is the rise in antibiotic use on farms a threat to humans?
Stop using birdsong apps, nature reserve tells visitors
Cheetahs 'more powerful than a motorbike'
Meet Ming, the panda who left China to boost Britain's wartime morale
Badger cull activists can 'bend the rules' during protests, say police
RSPB accused of hypocrisy for killing hundreds of birds on its reserves
Wolf walking in Cumbria: the new leaders of the pack
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Marine Harvest agrees to limit pesticides and seal killings
Schmallenberg vaccine available to UK farmers this summer
Cat wars break out in New Zealand
Racing pigeon sold for record £260,000
Most UK species in decline, wildlife stocktake shows
Hedgehogs are disappearing fast gardeners to the rescue
I've often seen bees infested with mites, but rarely one so heavily laden
Government licensed secret buzzard egg destruction, documents reveal
Hedgehogs have everything they need in this garden
China reports rise in humans encountering wild Siberian tigers
New to nature special: the top 10 new species
Zoo keeper mauled by tiger 'broke safety rules'
Industry, fires and poachers shrink Sumatran tigers' last stronghold
The swift is a bird that screams of the Earth's intricate interconnectedness
Tiger that killed zoo worker 'dragged her into its enclosure'
Culls risk illegally exterminating badgers, animal expert warns
Counting the cost: fears badger cull could worsen bovine TB crisis
My manifesto for rewilding the world
Ban Ki-moon to warn UN security council of dangers of wildlife trafficking
Beaver kills man in Belarus
GM 'hybrid' fish pose threat to natural populations, scientists warn
The beaver from Belarus and other deadly animals
Ants in Germany repeatedly ring woman's doorbell
A nightly procession of pheasants, ducks, deer and badgers in the garden
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