Country Life Today: The song of the world’s rarest whale recorded for the first time in history

This morning you can hear the song of the Pacific right whale, see how nature at Chernobyl has recovered and discover the surprising fate of the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic.

The song of the world’s rarest whale recorded for the first time in history

There are thought to be just 30 Pacific right whales left in the world, the species having been hunted to the very brink of extinction.

So while the whale song in the video above may not exactly be a catchy tune, it’s an extraordinary achievement by marine biologists, who have never before been able to record the sounds —  gunshot-like predominant calls, upcalls, downcalls, moans, screams and warbles — of this fantastically rare beast.

Read more (AP)

Life after meltdown

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The ‘Chernobyl’ BBC TV series prompts Lonely Planet’s look at how nature has reestablished itself at the site of the appalling 1980s nuclear disaster. It’d still take a brave tourist to make the trip they suggest, though…

Read more (Lonely Planet)

A horsebox converted into a mobile farm shop hits it big at  Rural Oscars

A leader article in the Daily Telegraph pays tribute to some of the winners of the Countryside Alliance’s awards, affectionately known as the Rural Oscars.

‘Among the winners were a mobile farm shop that operates out of a converted horsebox in Sussex, a Herefordshire crisp-making firm which sells its products in biodegradable and compostable packets, and an entrepreneur who encourages the growth of farmers’ markets in Suffolk,’ they write. ‘Even in these unpredictable times, resilience, determination and innovation were to the fore.’

Full story (Daily Telegraph)

200 years ago today: The first steam-powered crossing of the Atlantic

SS Savannah, the first steam powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean

It’s exactly 200 years since SS Savannah landed in Liverpool to become the first steam-powered ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Savannah was a hybrid, part-sail and part-steam powered, and used her sails for much of the journey — yet this is still a great landmark in human transport.

Yet the ship and its owners saw no benefit. Popular opinion was still deeply suspicious of relying on steam and Savannah was a commercial flop — so much so that it was converted to sail-only shortly after the successful return crossing. The ship was wrecked just two years later and never sailed again.

Read more about SS Savannah (Wikipedia)

Bin wars in Huddersfield

The expansion of recycling across the nation has been a massive change in the space of a generation — but with all such changes come teething problems. In Huddersfield, that’s meant war between residents and rubbish collectors as 1,300 wheelie bins have been confiscated over items mistakenly placed in the wrong bin.

Kirklees council has hired 12 ‘bin inspectors’ to check — yet rules are so complicated that only the inspectors themselves seem to know . One example in the report in The Times is that of the humble margarine tub — a dustman, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that he’d had contradictory instructions on whether or not they can go in.

Read more (The Times)

And finally… A sad note and a happy one

Steve Ayres pictured in Scotland in the summer of 2018

Yesterday afternoon saw the funeral of Steve Ayres, our beloved colleague at Country Life, who was tragically killed in a motorbike accident last month.

Later in the day at the PPA awards — the ‘Oscars’ of the magazine industry — Country Life was named Brand of the Year. Steve would have been enormously proud – just as we are of him.