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Great places to see.....

The Wildlife Trusts have more than 2,300 nature reserves around the UK which are all great places to get close-up to wildlife.  But with so many reserves to choose from, if you want so see a particular plant or animal, it can be difficult to decide where to start!  To help you, we've put together some guides about where to see wildlife across our nature reserves. 

Ancient and unusual trees


Ancient and unusual trees (pdf file)

What are the oldest living things on the planet? That's right - trees!  Some trees alive today have been growing for hundreds of years, maybe even a thousand years or more!  With thick lumpy trunks and gnarled old branches they are full of character and are also important homes for many types of wildlife.   





Marsh Harrier


Birds of Prey (pdf file)

There is always something exhilarating about watching birds of prey. With their aerial flight displays and killer instinct they are definitely our most spectacular birds. Check out our guide to great places to spot them.










Thousands of bluebells carpeting the floor of a woodland is a magnificent sight.  If you want to see them in flower you will need to visit in the springtime (April/May) when the woods turn from green to blue.








Cuckoos & Nightingales

Clean out your ears and get listening because both cuckoos and nightingales are more recognisable from their song than from their appearance.  In fact you're much more likely to hear these birds than to see them because they tend to hide away and can be very difficult to spot. Cuckoos and nightingales used to be much more common than they are today, and the sound of a cuckoo was a sign that springtime had arrived.  Spring is still the best time to listen out for both these birds. 



Banded Demoiselle


Dragonflies and Damselflies (pdf file)

Dragonflies and damselflies spend most of their lives as larvae, living underwater in ponds, but during the summer they briefly emerge and transform themselves into fantastic flying machines.   With about forty breeding species in the UK there are plenty of different dragons and damsels to discover.





Sanke's Head Fritillary


Fritillary meadows

Snake's-head fritillaries are delicate white or dark pink flowers, decorated with a checkerboard pattern.  They are one of our rarest wild flowers, but in a few meadows in the UK they still grow together each year in their thousands.  Visit in April/May to see them.






Heron's nesting



Did you know that herons like to nest near to other herons in places called heronries?  Visiting a heronry in the breeding season is a great way to get a good look at these massive fish-catching birds.  







Pyramidal orchid


Orchids (pdf file)

You might think that orchids are exotic, foreign flowers, but actually we have about fifty different types of orchid growing here in the UK.  Many are tall, pink and spiky looking flowers, but others look like insects (bee orchid, fly orchid), amphibians (frog orchid) or even people (man orchid)!    







Otters (pdf file)

In recent years, otters have been making a come-back and they can now be found across the UK.  Spotting one can still be tough though because these shy mammals usually prefer to hide away from people.  In this guide we've listed some places where we know otters have been found.  Go quietly and with a bit of luck you might just come face to face with one of these secretive creatures.






Rockpool wildlife

Are you ready to get wet?  Rockpools are teaming with marine wildlife so roll up your sleeves, grab your net and delve under a rock and see what you can find.








Starling murmuration


Thousands of birds (pdf file)

How many birds have you seen at once?  Ten?  Twenty?  Well sometimes birds can flock together in their thousands.  It might be geese on the shoreline, or perhaps starlings all flying together like a great big swirling cloud called a 'murmuration'.  Whatever the type of flock, when thousands of birds get together it is a pretty impressive sight. 




wild daffodils


Wild daffodils

Daffodils are not just a garden flower.  Here in the UK we also have a native wild daffodil that brightens up woodlands and meadows in early spring.  There are not many places left where you can still see them but, where they do grow, they make great golden carpets of colour.  Well worth a visit.





wildflower meadow


Wildflower meadows (pdf file)

Wildflower meadows buzz with life.  They are loved by bees, butterflies, grasshoppers and many other species of wildlife, and they are crammed full with wild flowers and grasses.  Meadows are really amazing places to visit.  Go on a warm sunny day to see them at their best.    





White admiral


Woodland butterflies (pdf file)

If you are a budding lepidopterist (someone who studies butterflies and moths) then this handy guide will help you discover the places where many of our rarer butterflies like to hang out.  Take your binoculars with you as some of these butterflies prefer to flutter only in the tree tops.






Photo credits: Tree (c) Gemma De Gouveia / Marsh Harrier (c) Damian Waters/Drumimages.co.uk / Bluebells (c) Dylan McGlone / Banded Demoiselle (c) Vicky Nall / Cuckoo, Otter, White Admiral (c) Amy Lewis / Snake's-head Fritillary (c) Tom Marshall / Grey Herons nesting (c) Neil Phillips / Pyramidal Orchid (c) Les Binns / Rockpool (c) Anna Guthrie / Murmuration (c) Andrew Mason / Wild daffodils (c) Hazel Phillips / Wildflower meadow (c) Kieron Huston