We’ve put together a month-by-month guide to our ‘must-see’ natural wonders to help you plan your next break and fully indulge yourself in the delights of this great isle.
During the cold winter months, many birds roost together in order to keep safe and warm, so it’s a great opportunity for bird watching. Huge flocks of starlings are very common during this time and can be seen performing amazing shows as they glide and swing through the sky. Redwings and fieldfares often feed together in flocks in their hundreds – a truly spectacular sight to see first-hand. Local Wildlife Trusts have wetland nature reserves perfect for bird-spotting in the new year.
Mid-winter evergreens give the outdoors a touch of much needed colour, with holly, ivy, mistletoe and red berries flourishing. The wealth of food available means it’s also a great time for wildlife, so keep an eye out for woodpigeons and other birds. This is a great opportunity to get out with the family and see beautiful woodlands carpeted in snowdrops. Check out local wildlife organisations who often organise snowdrop walks.
Finally spring arrives, and as the days begin to get longer the sunshine creates a burst of greenery, colour and bustling wildlife. Your appreciation of the natural world need not be confined to the daylight, though; March and April are the best time for stargazing in the UK. Best done before the moon is full, you can see some 4,000 stars shining down on us when the sky is clear.
Bluebells blossom in April and with woodlands covered in the lilac flowers, wood anemones and early purple orchids, there’s no better time to take a trip outside. Buds of hawthorn are also beginning to bloom, creating beautiful, creamy white flowers.
Queen bumblebees, frogs, grass snakes, hedgehogs and lizards are just some of the creatures appearing out of hibernation. Millions of migrant birds, including swallows, swifts, cuckoos and nightingales journey over to the UK, adding to the already busy spring months. Many species also begin looking for a mate and start breeding towards the end of the month.
Insects become one of the main focuses for wildlife watchers during the summer. June brings an abundance of moths, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and bugs to spot - an especially fun activity to do with young children. June isn’t just great for minibeasts…it is also the best time to discover the full beauty of local meadows. Orchids blossom into life and, if you’re lucky, you’ll also spot plenty of rare butterflies.
July is the perfect time for strawberry picking – look out for local spots to collect a punnet or two. With bright red poppies flowering, it is also a fantastic time to visit National Trust protected parks across the country to see one of summer’s greatest spectacles – many also offer festivals and concerts to enjoy.
Every August, the Wildlife Trust runs National Marine Week, and shark spotting is just one of the many events on offer. Take a trip down to the seashore and you can venture into the rockpools to see what wildlife you can discover. From crabs and smaller fish to dolphins, there’s a broad selection of sea life to spot.
Autumn is a busy time with a lot of change. The beautiful autumnal colours are contrasted with plenty of berries, fruits, nuts and seeds. With a mixture of animals arriving, leaving for migration and preparing for the winter, there’s plenty to look out for during these brisk months. With a flourish of new berries, why not venture out blackberrying and make some lovely homemade jam or blackberry and apple crumble?
As October falls, it’s an ideal time to go on woodland walks to see first-hand the beautiful yellow, gold and orange colours of the leaves before they fall. For a truly spectacular view, locate your nearest beech woodland, such as the Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods National Nature Reserve.
From huge flocks of long-tailed tits to fighting red deer, there’s plenty of wildlife to observe during November. Put on your walking boots and visit a local deer park to see what you can discover.
For the dedicated nature spotters (and those with thermal clothing!), December is an ideal time for birdwatchers. With frost and no leaves on the trees, conditions are perfect for viewing a variety of birds including blue tits and great tits. With cranberry season in full swing, why not go picking just-in time for homemade sauce on Christmas Day?