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

Feel the beat of spring

Image © Gillian Day

In the bare branches of our woodlands, woodpeckers are drumming - beating out the rhythm of the season.

Wrap up warm, and go out into the woodlands near you on a still, clear day

In our woodlands, robins have been singing all winter long, and during February the dawn chorus is building up as they are joined by other resident songsters: great tit, chaffinch, wren and blackbird.  While these birds provide the tunes, the rhythm section comes from woodpeckers, the great spotted woodpecker and his smaller, rarer cousin lesser spotted woodpecker.

Both male and female woodpeckers ‘drum’, although the male definitely puts more into it, advertising for a mate and proclaiming his territory by hammering away at his favourite branch in bursts of up to 20 times per second with a force four times as strong as that of a football being kicked by Wayne Rooney. That’s more than enough to knock you unconscious and cause major brain damage, if not worse: quite a hammering for a bird no bigger than a thrush. And yet the bones of the woodpecker’s skull have evolved a durable combination of spongy ‘shock absorbers’ and a specially-adapted tongue bone that acts as a ‘seat belt’, holding the brain tightly in place.

How to do it

Wrap up warm, and go out into the woodlands near you on a still, clear day.  Ancient, broad-leaved woodlands are the best, with enough big old trees to give places for woodpeckers to nest.  Great spotted woodpecker drums in short bursts that fade out at the end.  The drumming of the lesser spotted woodpecker is higher pitched, in a longer burst that stops abruptly. It is sometimes possible to entice a woodpecker closer or to encourage him to reply by hitting a dead branch with a stone.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Great spotted woodpeckers are increasingly common as garden visitors: put out a peanut feeder to tempt one onto your bird table.

Special spots

Essex, Shut Heath Wood nature reserve, is a very reliable site to see and hear the elusive lesser spotted woodpecker in early spring, before there are leaves on the trees.

Ayrshire, Ayr Gorge Woodlands 

Cambs, Waresley and Gransden Woods 

Gloucestershire, Lower Woods  

Leicestershire, Launde Woods  

London, Sydenham Hill Wood

Oxfordshire, Warburg Nature Reserve 

Pembrokeshrie, Pengelli Forest

Great spotted woodpecker © Steve Waterhouse