Eyes on the sky on a sultry solstice night

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Comins Coch, Aberystwyth Beech leaves moved silkily in the warm wind as though breathing, the only other sounds the stream and distant sheep

Long after midnight, with the temperature well above 20C and humidity high, I gave up attempting to sleep and checked what the night sky might offer in compensation. With the moon yet to rise, the village was in darkness, swathed in a murky blanket of haze that all but obscured the mountains to the east. Looking up, a few stars were just visible above the beech trees – whose leaves moved silkily together in the warm wind as though breathing, the only other sounds those of the stream and a few distant sheep.

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Changing the course of history for Kenya’s wildlife

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Kenya’s wildlife numbers are plummeting. Reconnecting people to nature is key to the solution.

On May 31st Kenya celebrated the inauguration of the first phase of the new high-speed rail link from Mombasa to Nairobi. Now Kenyans can travel between the two largest cities quickly and cheaply. Accelerated movement of cargo and people will mean more trade, more income generation, and therefore, more jobs, and that’s good for our youthful nation.

Much less widely reported were results of studies by Dr Joseph Ogutu and colleagues at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which reveal that Kenya’s wildlife numbers are plummeting. Some of our most treasured animals, such as hirola, rhinos, cheetah, lions, and giraffe, are being pushed to the brink of extinction.

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Great Barrier Reef valued at $56bn as report warns it’s ‘too big to fail’

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Deloitte Access Economics report says reef underpins 64,000 jobs and contributes $6.4bn to economy each year

A new report has valued the Great Barrier Reef at $56bn and warns of vast economic consequences for Australia unless more is done to protect it.

The Deloitte Access Economics report says the world heritage-listed reef underpins 64,000 direct and indirect jobs, and contributes $6.4bn to the national economy each year.

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The return of the giant hogweed: Country diary 100 years ago

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Originally published in the Guardian on 1 July 1967

MACHYNLLETH: When a friend wrote recently and added a PS, “How’s that plant?” I knew that he meant the giant hogweed I described in this diary a year ago and which brought in more letters than anything I have ever mentioned. Last year’s plants duly disappeared but this year one has come up in a different place. It sowed itself at a path edge and for several weeks looked harmless enough. But suddenly it stretched out huge arms all round and now the path is quite blocked. Meanwhile its main stem is shooting up with equal speed and will soon be expanding massive umbels. I see it through the window as I write.

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Experts capture blue shark after Mallorca beach sighting

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Animal was first spotted near Cala Major and Can Pastilla, with lifeguards ordering swimmers out of the water

Experts have captured a blue shark whose presence in shallow waters off the coast of Mallorca caused panic over the weekend and led to the evacuation of beaches on the Balearic island.

Related: Mysterious ghost shark caught on film for the first time

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As Trump moves to privatize America’s national parks, visitor costs may rise

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Some are concerned that the proposed privatization of some public park services would drive up costs for visitors and fail to raise enough for repairs

America’s national parks need a staggering $11.5bn worth of overdue road and infrastructure repairs. But with the proposed National Park Service budget slashed by almost $400m, the Trump administration says it will turn to privatizing public park services to address those deferred maintenance costs.

“I don’t want to be in the business of running campgrounds,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said at a meeting of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association in Washington this month. This came after Donald Trump proposed cutting the Interior budget by 13%.

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Garden of Earthy Delights offers oasis for refugee families

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Garden of Earthy Delights offers oasis for refugee families – Cyprus Mail

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The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicolson review – gritty, poetic and soaring

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A beautiful exploration of 10 species of seabirds – and the threats they face

Adam Nicolson says this “paean to the beauty of life on the wing” began when he read a Seamus Heaney lecture exploring French philosopher Simone Weil’s aphorism: “Obedience to the force of gravity. The greatest sin.” It says everything about this gorgeous book: a poetic, soaring exploration of 10 species of seabirds: gull, guillemot, gannet and so on – which revels in the way they “float like beings from the otherworld”. And for all Nicolson’s determination to celebrate the cultural significance of birds that have magnetised his mind, there’s a proper dose of gritty reality here too, not just in his horror that “science is coming to understand the seabirds just as they are dying”. This is a visceral book, full of hardy, bloodthirsty birds. Nicolson should know this terrain – his father actually bought the Shiants, the Hebridean islands teeming with puffin, razorbill and kittiwake – but his writing is expansive, generous and beautifully composed, rather than elitist. Kate Boxer’s illustrations are a delightful companion, too.

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