Introduction

Wild Time

Spring

Feel the beat of spring

Be dazzled by bluebells

Harken to a bittern's boom

Seek a swooping sand martin

Pen poetry among daffodils

Sway with dancing grebes

Get sent packing by a grouse

Take a ringside seat

Track down a tiger

Watch a rare sky dance

Chatter with a natterjack

Enjoy the great rush north

Look up in awe

Shine a light on newts

Eavesdrop on a nightingale

Go spotting early orchids

Follow a sat-tagged osprey

Gape at hunting hobbies

Nurse a passion for purple

Scour riverbanks for Ratty

Tip-toe among fritillaries

Summer

Hail the success of avocets

Go batty as night falls

Bewitched by a buttercup

Play the summertime blues

Thrill to damsels and dragonflies

Go after Dartford warbler

Make a splash with gannets

Stake out a badger sett

Hurrah for the king

Rejoice in Manxie's chorus

Delight in a glow worm

Fall for THE fastest bird

Be spellbound by orchids

Journey to a seabird city

Exalt at a skylark's song

Party with the puffins

Lounge with a lizard

Haunt a churring nightjar

Head seawards on safari

Discover the rare spoonbill

Join the toadlet exodus

Spot our largest butterfly

Wear a hat for terns

Hunt woodland beauties

Autumn

Admire our eager beavers

Marvel at migration

Forage for Autumn's bounty

Go nuts over squirrel nutkin

Ramble through purple

Gaze in awe at reds' rut

Wander in the wild wood

Cheer on the salmon run

Try a wild goose chase

Foray for fungi

Winter

Pay homage to the Russians

Go on a winter ghost hunt

Wonder at wintering waders

Fall in love with a seal pup

Hear Britain's tallest bird

Revel in roosting wagtails

Kiss beneath mistletoe

'Ooh' & 'aah' at murmurations

Lie in wait for an otter

Rock 'n' roll with geology

Wrap up for a raptor roost

Eavesdrop on a nightingale

Nightingale Nightingale © Amy Lewis

Late April sees the return of the greatest feathered singer to England’s southern woodlands.

They will be in loudest voice first thing in the morning, so be prepared to be up early

After a winter in the sun in West Africa, the nightingale has flown back across the Sahara and up through Iberia to make its way back to the woods of southern England.  A rather drab, unprepossessing bird, the nightingale looks a little like a slender robin who forgot to put on his red bib.  But it’s not all about looks, and there’s certainly more to this tan-coloured book than its cover, once the nightingale has opened its mouth.

They may not sing in Berkeley Square, but by the start of May, the woods of southern England will resounds once again to the song of the nightingale, who “singest of summer in full-throated ease,” as Keats so poetically put it in his famous ode.  And its song is a very complicated one: each male may have a range of up to 180 different song elements, a whole range of clicks and churrs, gurgles and croaks, whistles and trills, with the more complex the song the more successful the male in attracting his mate.

How to do it

Despite what you may have heard, nightingales definitely don’t only sing at night. If anything, they will be in loudest voice first thing in the morning, so be prepared to be up early.  Nightingales can be found in broadleaved woodlands, south of a line drawn between the Humber and the Severn.  They sing from the densest bushes and shrubs, so you are a lot more likely to hear their loud song than you are to see this shy singer. Make sure you have listened to the song of the nightingale, either on The Wildlife Trusts’ soundcloud  or on a cd of bird songs before you go, so that you know what to listen for.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… There is a wonderful short film of Fingringhoe Wick’s nightingales on Youtube .  The nightingale may be the most famous of our songbirds, but is it the greatest?  There are other birds with perhaps a more tuneful song.  Song thrush, robin and blackbird can all give the nightingale a run for its money, and you can hear those in your own garden.

Special spots

A few miles south-east of Colchester, Fingringhoe Wick in Essex is arguably the best place in the country to listen to the wonderful sound of the nightingale singing.  In late April and early May, Fingringhoe Wick hosts the astonishing sound of dozens of nightingales, singing their hearts out, on full throttle. Essex Wildlife Trust runs guided walks from late April to mid-May to listen to the sound of 30-40 male nightingales singing at the same time, and any visitor to the nature reserve during this period is highly likely to hear this song.

Cambridgeshire,  Brampton Wood

Lincolnshire,  Whisby Nature Park

Suffolk,  Lackford Lakes

Sussex,  Woods Mill

Wiltshire,  Lower Moor Farm 

Nightingale © Essex Wildlife Trust

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