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Out of Context

I’m standing quite still in a grassy, tree-cloistered alley. Just yards away, something is emitting a thin, grating shriek, over and over. So haunting is the call, my young son grabs at my legs and wants to return the way we’ve just come. And this despite the fact that we’ve just, quite literally, come eye-to-eye […]

Rites of Spring and Rough Edges

People have different methods of marking the changing of the seasons. British nature writer Richard Mabey says he has two specific ‘seasonal rites of passage’ to which he is sentimentally attached: seeing the first swifts of the year over the parish church from his study window, and walking in a particular corner of his own […]

Notes from Nature: Life or Death

After a brief respite of a few spring-like days, winter is back. But living in the city, perhaps we don’t always feel the full force of the seasons. For many people, snowfall in Vienna means little more than pulling on stout boots and de-icing cars in the morning – minor inconveniences at most. Within hours, […]

The Wilder Side of Vienna

Due to poor planning, I’ve been unable to venture to the Vienna Woods in search of what I hoped would be the subject of this month’s column. I’d been aiming to catch a glimpse of the handsome – but shy and solitary – black stork; a considerably less gregarious bird than its white relative. Living […]

In Austria, the Eagles Have Landed – Again

I’m in the March-Thaya wetlands on the Austro-Slovakian border. It’s the closest thing to the Heart of Borneo that I’m likely to find in Central Europe – and not just because of the giant mosquitoes that are treating me like a walking lunch buffet. These verdant swamp lands constitute arguably Austria’s most valuable and underappreciated […]

The City’s Own Strand of the River

As we walk along the southern bank of the Danube Canal, I am reminded of how important this park-lined waterway is to the natural balance of life in Vienna; how integral it is to the city, while remaining a world apart. I turn to my companion Franz Essl, an ecologist with the Austrian Environment Agency, […]

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