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

Play the summertime blues

Common blue butterfly (c) Janet Packham

See if you can tell the difference between a chalkhill and an Adonis butterfly.

Butterflies are at their best on a still, sunny day. Wind or rain are not the butterfly-watcher’s friend

Amongst our butterflies, one group best sums up those hot days of high summer.  On a south-facing downland slope, with the scent of thyme and marjoram on the air, swallows skimming low over the grass and the buzzing of grasshoppers in your ears, bright blue butterflies skip and chase across the hillside.

The large blue is a very rare beast, only found on a tiny handful of sites where it has been reintroduced, and the small blue flies earlier in the year, but the other five ‘blues’ are all on the wing in the summer holidays.  The dainty silver-studded blue is a butterfly of heathlands, where its caterpillars feed on gorse amongst other plants: you may come across it whilst looking for reptiles or Dartford warblers.  The silvery-pale holly blue can be seen flitting about like a twinkling silver coin in gardens and parks, where it feeds on holly and ivy.  

But it is on the grasslands that the blues really come into their own.  The familiar common blue, the large powder-blue chalkhill blue and the dazzlingly azure Adonis blue can be seen on the wing together, and in the best years on the best sites, the numbers really can be breathtaking.  So sit back on that hillside and watch as a cloud of blue butterflies tumbles around you.

How to do it

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Most of the blues are restricted to some special places, and mostly in the south of England, but the common blue can be found throughout the country, and the holly blue is a frequent garden visitor in England and lowland parts of Wales.

Special spots

The large blue was re-introduced to Daneway Banks in Gloucestershire in 2002 and this special site now boasts the largest population in the country of this rare butterfly.

Bedfordshire,  Blow’s Down s

Bedfordshire, Totternhoe

Berkshire,  Wildmoor Heath

Buckinghamshire,  Yoesden

Dorset,  Upton Heath

Dorset,  Fontmell Down

Dorset,  Tout Quarries

Dorset,  Tadnoll and Winfrith 

Hampshire,  St Catherine’s Hill

Isle of Wight,  Arreton Down

London, Hutchinson's Bank

Norfolk,  Roydon Common and Grimston Warren

Oxfordshire,  Hartslock

Suffolk,  Blaxhall Common

Surrey,  Sheepleas

Sussex,  Ditchling Beacon

Sussex,  Malling Down (Chalkhill, Adonis and common blues)

Sussex,  Southerham

Sussex,  Levin Down

Chalkhill blue butterfly © Margaret Holland

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