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

Marvel at migration

Pied flycatcher © Amy Lewis

Autumn migration sees tens of millions of birds heading south for the winter.

As in the spring, the major migration hotspots are around our coasts, but autumn migration can be seen almost anywhere in the country

Compared to the great rush north, when all the birds are arriving at the same time to grab as much of the spring as they can and get on with the vital task of breeding, the southbound autumn migration is a much more leisurely, drawn out affair. Birds take the journey in stages, stopping to refuel and socialise on the way.

“Autumn” for a migrating bird doesn’t have the same meaning as it does to us. For the cuckoo, ‘autumn’ starts in June, as soon as she has finished breeding, and by July she is already back in the Sahel, feeding on the caterpillars of African moths and planning the next leg of her journey to the rainforests of central Africa. Wading birds from the Arctic also have a short season, and large numbers will already be back on our wetlands in July, busy feeding and re-stocking their reserves for the last push down to West Africa and beyond. August sees the swifts scream their last over our towns and villages and disappear from our skies, for the non-stop flight down to South Africa.

Swallows and house martins start to gather together in August and September, forming large flocks at reedbeds and famously lined up along telegraph wires before they too decide it’s time to leave, flying their way back down across Europe and the Mediterranean, heading for Botswana.

Out to sea, thousands of auks, kittiwakes and gannets are leaving their colonies and heading out into the Bay of Biscay and the North Atlantic for the winter. Arctic terns and Manx shearwaters have longer journeys in mind, both heading down to the southern oceans, while the tiny red-necked phalarope, a sparrow-sized wader that breeds on pools in Shetland has the Herculean task ahead of not only flying right across the Atlantic but then flying right across Central America to spend the winter months in the equatorial Pacific, bobbing around on the seas surrounding the Galapagos islands...

September sees the peak of the migration, a period when thousands of flycatchers, chats, warblers and even wrynecks, arrive on our coasts from Scandinavia, all with one thing on their mind: the journey to Africa.

October arrives and it’s the turn of thousands of swans and geese, thrushes and buntings and large numbers of the delicate goldcrest, Europe’s smallest bird weighing the same as a ten pence piece and yet able to make its way across the North Sea to spend its winter here with us.

The journeys that our birds make are pretty awe-inspiring, and there are few more mind-blowing wildlife experiences than watching them pass by and marvelling at how far they’ve come, and how far they still have to go.

How to do it

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…During October, large numbers of winter thrushes, redwings and fieldfares arrive from Scandinavia.  On a dark night, stand quietly for a while and listen.  You may well hear the high pitched ‘seep’ of redwings flying over in the dark.

Special spots

Autumn migration on the east coast can be an exciting time.  Often overshadowed by its more popular ‘neighbours’ in Yorkshire and Norfolk, if you want to experience autumn migration without the crowds of other birdwatchers, why not head to Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire. 

Devon, Dawlish Inner Warren ,  

Dorset, Brownsea Island,

Essex, The Naze and Gunners Park  (wryneck and pied flycatcher are seen annually)

Hampshire, Farlington Marshes

Isles of Scilly

Lincolnshire, Donna Nook,

Norfolk, Cley Marshes

Northumberland, East Chevington,

Sussex, Rye Harbour

Yorkshire, Spurn National Nature Reserve

Yorkshire, Flamborough Cliffs,

Stonechat © Jon Hawkins

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