Blog about animals
Selected the best cow in Germany
Fishing ban proposed near Rockall after rare scientific finds
Life and death on the riverbank
Baboon shot dead after escaping from Knowsley Safari Park
Birdwatch: Peregrine falcon
Iceland's fin whales are endangered. Stop this bloody cull
The pitfalls of elderly dog insurance
Valley where Edward Carpenter, gay rights campaigner and socialist, walked
Green groups warn government of national parks hunting backlash
Demand for ivory destabilising central Africa
Dog walker found neighbour trampled by cows, inquest hears
Cat stands for election in Mexican city
I hear some hip cat's running for mayor in Mexico. That gives me an idea
Wader chick fever grips birds and spotters alike
Philippines destroys five tonnes of elephant tusks
The Dwyfor is surely one of the loveliest of Welsh rivers
New to nature No 107: Typhochlaena costae
How to beat the midges this summer
Controversial herring gull cull gets green light
Whaling's day in court is a sea change for conservation
Australia censures Japan for 'scientific' whaling
The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares
Our garden's blackbirds started their nest-building early this year
UK wildlife and nature hit hard by erratic weather
  Bats: they've never had it so good
It's easy for us townies to forget how difficult life can be in the countryside. For example, take bats. They are now residing in churches up and down the land, and, thanks to EU laws, they have protected status.

Are they grateful for these warm, cosy homes with nobody about to evict them? No, they appear not to be. Instead, they poop and pee all over the altars and communion tables. They are a bit like those squatters who wreck the homes they live in before the owners can get an order to evict them. And getting an order is not cheap.

According to Sir Tony Baldry, the MP who represents the Church Commissioners in parliament, it can cost £29,000 in legal fees to get the bats evicted. Churches cannot raise the money for "bat litigation", he added. ("Holy Moses, Robin, time to contact the Bat Barrister!")

One church in Yorkshire has already spent that amount, and the bats are still roosting there. I imagine most congregations would need around a century's worth of Sunday collections to raise the sums required.

And the problem is increasing. Word has got out in the bat community that anything with a steeple can provide a snug pad for as long as it takes the congregation to raise the 29 grand.

I half expected a Tory backbencher to blame it all on the entry of Transylvania into the EU. "They flood in here, taking over our churches, using our free veterinary services, sucking the blood of our young maidens "

As Sir Tony pointed out, "churches are not field barns; they are places of worship!" Fat lot the bats care. But they may not have the last laugh, or squeak.

There is an institution called the Bats, Churches and Communities Pilot Project. It brings together the Bat Conservation Trust and the Church Buildings Council. But talks have stalled. The two groups cannot agree. It sounds like a case for the two superheroes, Batman and Churchman, to slug it out preferably on a church roof somewhere.

Earlier, we had the usual feast of jargon that attends all Defra question times. Most of it would defeat the poor chap who provides the Archers with information about agriculture.

"Thirty per cent of the new pillar 1 will depend on greening!" announced Owen Paterson, the Defra minister.

Can anyone figure out what that is supposed to mean?

But I was delighted to hear from Mr Stephen Hepburn, the Labour MP for Jarrow, who has brought a whiff of the old class war back into the Commons.

"Now that this government of millionaires for millionaires have waged war against the poor people of this country by driving down their incomes and pushing the cost of fuel through the roof, what will the minister do about food prices, which are increasing three times faster than pay packets?" Mr Hepburn asked.

There is nothing New Labour about Mr Hepburn. He is as old Labour as a lovingly stitched and stained Durham miners' banner.

David Heath, the Liberal Democrat agriculture minister, could only reply feebly: "It will come as a surprise to my wife that I am a millionaire."
'Wild' animals in travelling circuses benefit no one
The intoxicated world of the spotted flycatcher
Fishing quotas can be redistributed to favour smaller vessels high court
Madagascar battling worst locust plague since 1950s
A broody sparrow meets his match
Climate change is happening too quickly for species to adapt
The weird and wonderful world of the naked mole rat
Australian woman seriously injured during Spanish bull run
Spain's endangered Iberian lynx brought back from brink of extinction
One man and his sniffer dog help tackle Germany's hidden drug problem
The hotel that only takes dogs
T rex tooth found embedded in prey, restoring dinosaur's reputation
Bog cotton covers the summer Peak District moors in snow
Lifelike after death: the intricacies of a taxidermist's craft
The six-spot burnet moths complete their transformation
Research on animals in UK rises by 8% to exceed 4m procedures
Animal testing it's time to talk about it again
A pair of lithe animals are tumbling across the grass within feet of me
New to nature no 109: Anochetus hohenbergiae
England's ceremonial mayors eschew fur to support animal rights
Birdwatch: Corn bunting
Madrid declares war on plague of raccoon and parrot invaders
Snow leopards and wild yaks becoming 'fashion victims'
Horn seizure prompts rhinos warning
Threatened seabirds 'neglected' in plans for Scottish marine protected areas
Los Angeles campgrounds closed after plague-infected squirrel found
Only when I look down at the last second do I see it. I recoil instinctively
China's wine boom of little profit to giant pandas and small farmers
Let's not martyr the white-throated needletail to the anti-wind cause
Grasshopper breeder up for design award and educating western palates
Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes
Dog mauls boy at primary school in Northern Ireland
Our dog walks are punctuated by the corn bunting's jingling ringtone
End in sight for painful branding of semi-wild moorland ponies
New to nature No 108: Carlia decora
Penguins support gorillas as biscuit makers respond to palm oil threat
Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows
How to survive a seagull attack
A walk by the river triggers memories of a bygone age
Whales flee from military sonar leading to mass strandings, research shows
Down among the grass stems, a ball of recently hatched orb-web spiderlings
Owen Paterson vows to rid England of bovine TB with badger culls
Gassing of badgers considered in plan to eradicate TB in cattle
Visitors to the Pamplona bull run have blood on their hands
Bats: they've never had it so good
These dew ponds have been on the Downs possibly since medieval times
Australian bushman claims to have footage of legendary night parrot
Secret badger shoots pose 'a risk to public safety'
Cheshire police seize dog believed to have killed Pomeranian
Whale watching season is back - but how close is too close?
Plan to ban wild animals in travelling circuses 'goes too far'
Morrissey donates Channel 4 payout to Peta campaign against foie gras
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