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24 July 2012
Mike Dilger’s My Garden and Other Animals out now !

BBC One Show broadcaster, naturalist and University of Nottingham alumnus Mike Dilger (Botany 1988) has just brought out his latest book.

My Garden and other Animals (Collins ISBN-10: 0007457707) is the story of Mike and his partner Christina’s year long journey to create their very own wildlife sanctuary after moving into a new house ‘with potential’ in a rural village south west of Bristol.

 Mike Dilger book cover

From otters to badgers, chickens to hedgehogs, an orchard, a pond and compost bins, to the best birdlife imaginable, what began as a straightforward mission soon became the adventure of a lifetime.

Illustrated throughout with beautiful black-and-white line drawings by Christina Holvey, Mike Dilger’s partner-in-crime, this light-hearted nature tale with a twist will appeal to wildlife enthusiasts and keen gardeners alike.

Mike Dilger is the wildlife face of The One Show – one day capturing footage of badgers feeding in the middle of a suburban lawn and the next snorkelling with basking sharks. But behind the showbiz presentation there’s a passionate broadcaster and naturalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of British flora and fauna and an expertise of the ecosystems of South and Central America.

He’s been back to the University both to film and to speak to students and he’s also one of an ever-growing band of wildlife and natural history experts who are leaders in their field.

Mike told Alumni Exchange magazine last year: “I was at Nottingham from 1985-88 and I was distinctly mediocre as a student. I got a 2:2 in Botany and a first in socialising. I was a regular frequenter of the Buttery Bar, I spent a small fortune in the Happy Return in Lenton and I was frequently so hung-over I had to lie down on the seats at the back of the very lecture theatre where I recently addressed students.

“I was classically what people would call a late developer but I had a terrific time here and finally met other birders and people who loved natural history so I went twitching a lot, tried to get myself invited into Florence Nightingale, Florence Boot and Cavendish Halls after hours and occasionally turned up at lectures. It was an amazing time.”

After leaving the University Mike worked for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers at Burton Joyce, then got a contract with the Notts Wildlife Trust and later with the RSPB.

On his many trips to the tropics Mike collected an impressive array of diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, ringworm and septicaemia which led him to the nickname of Britain’s Most Diseased Man. He returned from the tropics in order to recover from his diseases and got into television work as a wildlife film researcher, firstly working for famous TV birdwatcher Bill Oddie.

“I don’t know how I got into wildlife. I went through quite a few hobbies when I was about 7-years-old before I hit on birding. I was given the Blandford Colour Series Guide to Birds and each page had two oil portraits of 256 species of birds commonly found around Britain. And I remember holding a torch under the bed covers at bedtime and reading the names of these fantastic birds - Montagu’s Harrier and Red-backed shrike. I wanted to see them all and to this day there’s only one I haven’t yet seen.”

Environmental historian, birdwatcher and friend of Mike, The University of Nottingham’s Dr Rod Lambert says of Mike: “He is engaging, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge, he’s one of our best communicators about nature and people, he’s passionate and I really do believe that he’s one of the finest examples we’ve got of presenters coming through who enthuse people and get people fired up about our glorious, complex and diverse natural world.”

Mike will be appearing at the British Birdwatching fair at Rutland Water from 17-19th August.

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