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

Hunt woodland beauties

Silver-washed fritillary, Worcestershire WT (c) Nicky Clarke

Head to the woods to enjoy some of Britain’s most dramatic and most endangered butterflies.

The UK is home to almost 60 resident species of butterfly.

While some species are common and thriving, others are in decline and restricted to particular habitats in just a handful of spots. Amongst those species in trouble are a whole suite of butterflies that make their home in our woodlands. Almost all our fritillaries are on the decline. The woodland species have particular plant requirements for their caterpillars. Heath fritillary prefers cow-wheat; itself an uncommon plant. Violets attract pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered, silver-washed, dark green and high brown, and marsh fritillary requires devil’s-bit scabious.

Our rarer hairstreaks favour mature blackthorn scrub along hedgerows or on the edge of woodland on which to lay their eggs, while the delicate wood white requires vetches and vetchlings along sunny woodland rides. Luckily, a handful of woodland butterflies are bucking the trend. The large and impressive silver-washed fritillary seems to be doing much better than its rarer cousins, and is actually expanding its range northwards, along with white admiral and speckled wood, both of which have also been pushing northwards over recent years.

How to do it

Sunny glades, rides and woodland edges are some of the best places to look for a variety of species, and locating the larval foodplant of specialist butterflies can make searching that bit easier. Look to the skies for canopy-dwelling butterflies like purple emperor and purple hairstreak, which rarely come to nectar. Scan the tops of oak woodlands with binoculars for the best chance to spot them in flight. Bramble patches are also good watchpoints for passing white admiral which are partial to the blossoms, and are a favourite feeding and resting place for black, brown and white-letter hairstreaks. See our children’s woodland butterfly spotter sheet .

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Our woodland rarities are restricted to their own special sites. Why not chase butterflies vicariously - read Patrick Barkham’s ‘The Butterfly Isles: A Summer In Search Of Our Emperors And Admirals’.

Special spots

An excellent site for visiting lepidopterists, Warton Crag in Lancashire is home to four species of fritillaries, including the rare high brown fritillarywhich is best looked for in July.

Antrim,  Glenarm 

Argyll, Shian Wood

Avon,  Weston Big Wood

Bedfordshire, King’s Wood and Rammamere Heath

Buckinghamshire, Homefield Wood

Buckinghamshire, Whitecross Green Wood

Cambridgeshire, Brampton Wood

Cornwall, Pendarves Wood

Cumbria, Howe Ridding Wood 

Devon, Marsland

Dorset, Powerstock Common

Durham, Hardwick Dene

Durham, Milkwellburn Wood

Essex, Thrift Wood

Gloucestershire, Siccaridge Wood

Hampshire, Pamber Forest

Hampshire, Roydon Woods

Hertfordshire, Balls Wood 

Kent,  East Blean Wood (one of the best places for heath fritillary)

Lanarkshire, Forest Wood

London, Sydenham Hill Wood

Norfolk, Foxley Wood

Northamptonshire,  Glapthorn Cow Pasture (good for black hairstreak)

Northumberland, Juliet’s Wood

Nottinghamshire, Eaton and Gamston Woods

Powys, Gilfach

Powys, Ystradfawr

Shropshire, Jones’ Rough

Somerset, King’s Castle Wood

Suffolk, Bradfield Woods

Surrey, Norbury Park

Surrey, Rodborough Common

Wiltshire, Blackmoor Copse

Worcestershire,  Grafton Wood (good for brown hairstreak)

Worcestershire, Monk Wood

Yorkshire, Brockadale

Heath fritillary © Jim Higham

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