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

Wrap up for a raptor roost

Marsh harrier © Mark Ollett

Head east to experience one of the greatest concentrations of birds of prey in the country.

Birds of prey are famously solitary animals, hunting solo, proud and aloof. But that’s not always the case.

Out in the flatlands of East Anglia, winter sees some great gatherings of wildlife. On the mudflats, great clouds of waders swirl as the tide turns. On the beach, grey seals are having their pups. In the fields, thousands of pink-footed geese feed side by side, warily watching the horizon. And over the reeds, a marsh harrier hunts, in hope of snatching a rabbit or a moorhen.

As the day draws to an end, head for Hickling Broad in Norfolk and aim to be in place an hour before dusk. It’s in this magical hour, as the sun heads for the horizon and for a precious few minutes transforms the reeds with a warm fiery glow, that one of the greatest of wildlife gatherings takes place.

Looking out over the marshlands, there will always be a marsh harrier, that solitary hunter quartering back and forth. But as the shadows stretch, more birds begin to materialise, drifting silently on spread wings across the marsh in the mid-distance – first ones and twos, but then more and more, sometimes as many as a dozen may be in a single binocular view at once. As some birds settle in to the top of the small hawthorn bushes, others appear and before you know it, there are harriers everywhere. More than 50 of these magnificent birds are regularly present during an evening, and counts of over 100 have sometimes been seen. And it’s not just marsh harriers who gather here. They are usually joined by one or two hen harriers, with peregrine, merlin, sparrowhawk and barn owl all expected visitors, alongside that other famous local resident, the common crane. An evening spent at the viewpoint is amongst the finest wildlife spectacles the winter has to offer.

How to do it

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Winter is a great time to find raptors where ever you are. Both marsh and hen harriers, the occasional rough-legged buzzard, peregrines and the diminutive merlin all head to the fields and grazing marshes of the southern and eastern coasts to spend the winter. Elsewhere red kites and common buzzards can be more obvious in the leafless wintery landscape, while in our gardens this is the time of year when sparrowhawks are more likely to turn to the birds attracted to your birdtable for a midwinter snack.

Special spots

The most accessible winter raptor roost is at Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Hickling Broad reserve . The Stubb Mill viewpoint is around 1km from the visitor centre and carpark, along sometimes muddy tracks. Up to 50 birds gather here on a good night, sometimes more. You also have a great chance of seeing barn owl, bittern or a flypast by the local cranes, as well as the possibility of Chinese water deer grazing in the fields.

Cambridgeshire, The Great Fen

Somerset,  Westhay Moor



Hen harrier © Amy Lewis

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