Wild Time


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



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



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



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

Be spellbound by summer orchids

Bee orchidBee orchid © Jon Hawkins

Enter a bewitching world of men and monkeys, ladies and lizards, frogs and flies – our summer orchids.

The superstars of the wild flower world are the orchids.

Summer is a time for wild flower meadows, hillsides ablaze with colour and a-buzz with insects. The superstars of the wild flower world are the orchids, and now is the best time to go out and enjoy their glamorous allure. Of the fifty or so species that are native to the UK, some are surprisingly common and widespread, while others are our most sought after rarities, found only in a select handful of special places.

The beautiful bee orchid, whose flower famously mimics a furry-bodied bee to fool its pollinator, is actually amongst the more common species, often turning up on road verges as well as grasslands and open ground around gravel pits. Its more understated cousin, the fly orchid pulls off a similar trick on the edge of woodland. Look for the bizarre bird’s-nest orchid deeper in the woods. Growing up from the dense leaf litter, the bird’s-nest orchid is a parasite which steals all its nutrients from the roots of trees. As a result it has dispensed with the green chlorophyll that other plants use to make their food, and is a ghostly creamy-brown colour all over.

On chalk grassland, look for the dense pink flower spikes of pyramidal orchids and the taller, cylindrical spikes of fragrant orchid, which smell sweetly, especially in the evening. Less ‘fragrant’ and more ‘smelly’ is the lizard orchid. A rarity found at just a few sites in the south of England, this giant among orchids has a spike of gorgeously twisty, spiral-lipped ‘lizard’ flowers, and smells strongly of billy goats.

How to do it

The key to finding orchids is to do your research beforehand: target the right habitats at the right times of year. There are many sources of information: start with your local Wildlife Trust.Be very careful where you tread. As well as the obvious flower spikes there will be plenty of non-flowering leaf rosettes which you should avoid trampling. Tempting as it may be, don’t pick the flowers. Orchids look their best out in the wild, and some species are legally protected: you could be breaking the law. 

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Orchids can be found in all parts of the UK, in many different habitats and flowering throughout the year from the April spikes of early purple orchid in the spring to the delicate spirals of autumn ladies tresses in September.

Special spots

A fabulous swathe of chalk grassland overlooking the Thames, Hartslock in Oxfordshire is renowned for its hundreds of monkey orchids, found at just three places in the country, as well as lady orchid and very unusually, the hybrid between the two. Other orchids found here include bee, pyramidal and common spotted orchids, common twayblade and white helleborine, while red kites soar overhead and both chalkhill and Adonis blues add a splash of colour later in the summer.

Antrim, Slievenacloy

Armagh,  Milford Cutting

Ayrshire, Feoch Meadows

Bedfordshire, Totternhoe

Berkshire, Greenham and Crookham Commons

Brecknock, Vicarage Meadows

Buckinghamshire, Aston Clinton Ragpits

Cornwall, Chyverton

Cumbria, Waitby Greenriggs 

Cumbria, Latterbarrow

Derbyshire, Priestcliffe Lees

Derbyshire, Rose End Meadows;

Devon, Dunsdon

Dorset, Fontmell Down

Durham, Blackhall Rocks

Durham, Bishop Middleham Quarry

Essex, Chafford Gorges Nature Park

Gloucestershire, Elliott (Swifts Hill)

Gwynedd, Caeau Tan y Bwlch

Gwent, Pentwyn Farm

Hampshire, Noar Hill

Hertfordshire, Frogmore Meadow

Isle of Man, Close Sartfield

Kent, Yocklett’s Bank

Kent, Downe Bank

Kent, Park Gate Down 

Lancashire, Salthill Quarry

Lincolnshire, Whisby Nature Park 

London, Hutchinson’s Bank, Chapel Bank and Threecorner Grove

Nottinghamshire, Wilwell Farm Cutting 

Oxfordshire, Warburg Nature Reserve  

Shropshire, Llynclys Common  

Suffolk, Winks Meadow  

Surrey, Howell Hill  

Warwickshire, Ufton Fields  

Wiltshire, Lower Moor Farm  

Worcestershire, The Knapp and Papermill

Yorkshire, Wharram Quarry

Pyramidal orchid © Les Binns