Country Life’s 10 best nature stories of 2021

We look back at our most popular nature stories of the last 12 months.

The 10 spiders you’ll find in the houses and gardens of Britain

Creepy. But cool.

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The true meaning of Dumbledore, Chiggypig, Hornywink and Lang lugs, and the other old English animal names all but lost to us

If you think Dumbledore is just a fictional Wizard, then this article from the summer is for you.

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Curious Questions: Are cows actually super-intelligent?

Cows possess secrets of which we poor Sapiens are unaware,’ writes John Lewis-Stempel. ‘Except that, after 20 years of cow-keeping, a few mysteries of the bovine brain have been unveiled to me. And I have moos for you.’

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Curious Questions: How do starlings murmurate?

As the light dims on an autumnal or winter’s evening, starlings will rise from their communal roosting site and wheel and swoop as if one body,’ writes Martin Fone, in this mesmerising article. It’s as if they are ‘under the command of a great choreographer in the sky.’

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13 truly staggering images from Close-up Photographer of the Year 2021

An astonishing image of butterflies underwater, other-worldly images of funghi and a candid snap of a cheeky rodent were among the winners and runners-up for the 2021 Close-up Photographer of the Year awards.

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The terrible truth about the cuckoo, and the ‘monstrous outrages’ it perpetrates on its foster parents and siblings

This was first published in 2020, but has proven enduringly popular — and it’s not hard to see why. This piece was eye-opening and grim, but utterly gripping from start to finish.

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10 majestic pictures of the beautiful nature of Britain, in honour of World Wildlife Day

In this article from World Wildlife Day on March 3rd, we looked at a series of simply stunning photographs that will leave you in awe of our natural world.

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The 10 things you can do to help save hedgehogs

From creating a wild corner in gardens to safeguarding ponds, Hedgehog Street shared their top 10 tips with us in this post on how we can look after these prickly creatures — and it’s still as relevant now as ever.

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The 8 best birdsongs you’ll hear in Britain

Back in February we challenged David Tomlinson to pick his ‘Desert Island Discs’ of birdsong, and it’s in every way as peaceful and soothing as you’d expect.

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Curious Questions: Why does the air smell so good after it’s been raining?

That wonderful scent in the air when the rain stops falling has entranced people since the dawn of time — but what causes it? Martin Fone investigates.

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