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

Summer is a time of colour - from the eye-opening red, yellow and black of the swallowtail butterfly to the blue sea backdrop of a dolphin boat trip, writes Simon Barnes

In daylight it’s a time to keep your eyes open for reptiles, especially snakes: and to fix up a boat trip and look for seals and dolphins

In Summer Wild Time switches to Achievement Mode.  There is a sense of job done: the Wild World is resting on its laurels, knowing that something important has been discharged.  The urgency has died down: life continues in a less frenzied manner.  Quieter too: the birds mostly cease their singing and get on with the job of raising young.

It’s a time of colour.  Butterflies appear as if from nowhere in every garden and I begin to wonder about making a pilgrimage to the West Country in search of the large blue butterfly: because of its beauty and because it’s one of the great conservation success stories.  And certainly I’ll go looking for swallowtails: vast slabs of colour in the Norfolk Broads that look as big as bats.

And I’ll probably resolve, as I do most years, to try and learn bats: to try and tell one species from another as they fly in the warm insect-thronged nights.  In daylight it’s a time to keep your eyes open for reptiles, especially snakes: and to fix up a boat trip and look for seals and dolphins.  Surely there’s nothing better than a dolphin leaping clear of the summer-blue sea.

With our thanks to the following photographers who have kindly allowed the use of their wonderful images throughout this online guide.  Credits: swallowtail butterfly © Brian Francis, avocet © Neil Aldridge, Barbastelle bat © Frank Greenaway, Badgeworth buttercup © Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, chalkhill blue butterfly © Jim Higham, banded demoiselle damselfly © Mike Snelle, Dartford warbler © Jason Bonsey, gannet © Alderney Wildlife Trust, badger © Jon Hawkins, kingfisher © Jon Hawkins, Manx shearwater © Amy Lewis, glow worm © John Tyler, peregrine falcon © Steve Waterhouse, bee orchid © Jon Hawkins, razorbills © Mike Snelle, skylark © Amy Lewis, puffin © Lynne Newton, sand lizard © Steve Davis, nightjar © Iain H Leach, dolphin © Sarah Perry, spoonbill © Brian Macfarlane, toadlet © Ian Watson, swallowtail butterfly © Chris Mills, arctic tern © James Rogerson, fritillary © Avon Wildlife Trust.

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