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

Wear a hat for terns

Arctic tern Arctic tern © James Rogerson

Visit a tern colony but don’t get too close: tern parents are notoriously feisty! A hat may come in handy!

Whilst the Common tern is the most widespread tern, it is actually not the most common...

During the summer, several species of tern return to nest on shingle beaches, gravel spits and low lying islands around the coast, and increasingly on islands and rafts on gravel pits and reservoirs inland. All our terns look superficially similar, like a small, elegant gull with a long swallow-like forked tail, slender wings and a black cap setting off the silvery grey plumage. Of the five species which nest here the one you are most likely to see, especially if you don’t live by the sea, is the Common tern. But while it is the most widespread of the terns, it’s not actually the commonest, despite its name. That title goes to the closely related Arctic tern, which nests in busy colonies on northern coasts and islands.

A tern colony is a noisy, hectic thing. Birds are continually coming and going, adults bringing fish back for their chicks or their sitting mate, young birds calling for their parents, and angry adults chasing off intruders of all shapes and sizes. Those dagger-like bills are quick to turn on intruders to their summer breeding colonies, so beware of getting too close, or perhaps just take a slightly taller friend with you.

How to do it

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…The Wildlife Trusts have live webcams at two tern colonies, beaming live images during the summer from Brownsea Island in Dorset and Montrose Basin in Scotland.

Special spots

Cemlyn Bay has one of the UK’s largest nesting populations of Sandwich terns. It is situated on the north coast of Anglesey, about three miles west of Cemaes, and has a large lagoon, separated from the sea by a spectacular, naturally-created shingle ridge. The ridge, known as Esgair Gemlyn, is formed by the process of longshore drift, its profile changing with the action of tide and weather..
In the summer, the lagoon is the backdrop for Cemlyn’s most famous wildlife spectacle. Clustered on islands in the brackish water is a large and internationally important seabird colony, including breeding common and Arctic terns, and one of the UK’s largest nesting populations of Sandwich terns. From the vantage point of the tern viewing area on the ridge, visitors experience these elegant birds close-up: chasing and diving in courtship displays; incubating eggs; preening and bathing in the lagoon, or calling to their hungry chicks as they come winging in with freshly-caught fish. The best time to visit is May to July, when wardens are on site who can give you lots more information.

Cumbria, South Walney

Derbyshire, Willington Gravel Pits

Dorset, Brownsea Island

Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point ,

Lincolnshire, Far Ings

Norfolk, Cley Marshes

Norfolk,  Hickling Broad

Norfolk, Holme Dunes

Rutland, Rutland Water

Sussex, Rye Harbour


Arctic tern family © Gillian Day

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