A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm

A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm

Dave Goulson

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1250072670

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Sting in the Tale, Dave Goulson's account of a lifetime studying bumblebees, was a powerful call to arms for nature lovers everywhere. Brilliantly reviewed, it was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for the best nonfiction book of the year, and it debuted the already renowned conservationist's ability to charm, educate, and tell an absorbing story.
In A Buzz in the Meadow, Goulson returns to tell the tale of how he bought a derelict farm in the heart of rural France. Over the course of a decade, on thirty-three acres of meadow, he created a place for his beloved bumblebees to thrive. But other creatures now live there too, myriad insects of every kind, many of which Goulson had studied before in his career as a biologist. You'll learn how a deathwatch beetle finds its mate and why butterflies have spots on their wings, and you'll see how a real scientist actually conducts his experiments.
But this book is also a wake-up call, urging us to cherish and protect life in all its forms. Goulson has that rare ability to persuade you to go out into your garden or local park and observe the natural world. The subtle glory that is life in all its forms is there to be discovered. And if we learn to value what we have, perhaps we will find a way to keep it.
















imagination, I decided to organise another work party. At this stage I was at Stirling University, and I invited down a group of friends to dig. It might not seem like the most attractive prospect, travelling 1,600 kilometres to dig a hole in the ground, but one should never underestimate the appeal of the offer of unlimited supplies of French cheese and wine. Five of them volunteered, all staff from the university, and so we formed a chain gang, hacking away at the hard earth and taking it in

modern genetic tools allow us to sequence genes and compare sequences between individuals and populations, but none of this was available to the early eco-logical geneticists. Instead Ford and his colleagues were forced to use visible differences between individuals, and between species, that might (or might not) serve as a proxy for genetic differences. Butterflies and moths had long been known to show variation in wing patterns between individuals; indeed, a popular and (with hindsight) rather

such variable genitalia, and this seemed worth exploring. Questioning the function of tiny spots on butterfly wings, or explaining why their genitalia come in various shapes and sizes, might seem fantastically obscure subjects to pursue. Answering these questions was never likely to change the world and, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, I can think of many more profound topics that I might have tackled, but in the spring of 1989 this was all I had. To get to grips with the function

into a fair facsimile. One of the few places in western Europe where there are still quite a few pristine flower-rich meadows is in the Alps. The sheer inaccessibility of many of the higher pastures has protected them to some extent from the ravages of modern agriculture, and the Alps remain the largest biodiversity ‘hotspot’ in Europe. A visit to these high meadows in late spring or summer is a must for any nature-lover. The weather is hugely unpredictable, but if you are lucky and catch the

decided to buy a trap. Cage traps are readily available in France – most hardware stores sell them – although I dread to think what they are generally used for and what happens to the animals they catch. My boys and I spent a summer setting the trap in places where we had seen the footprints, baited with all manner of delicacies. We tried eggs, raw meat, cooked meats and peanut butter, all to no avail. We tried peaches, grapes and apples, but the beast was not impressed. We tried cheeses – surely

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