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

Haunt a churring nightjar

Nightjar © Neil Aldridge

The eerie mechanical call and wing-slapping display of the nightjar returns to heaths and woodland clearings.

Rumour has it that patrolling male nightjars will come to investigate if you wave a white handkerchief in the air.

The nocturnal nightjar is one of our strangest birds. A wide-mouthed, insect-eating summer visitor to heathlands and young conifer plantations, they spend their days sitting on the floor, where they also nest. Cryptically camouflaged with an intricate mottling and patterning of greys and browns, they look just like a fallen log and are almost impossible to spot during the day.
But as dusk falls, all that changes. As the sun drops below the horizon and the light begins to thicken, a strange sound starts up. A mechanical whirring, reeling noise, almost like a distant motorbike engine, a churring that you just can’t place, so good is this ventriloquist at throwing his voice. And then, just as the darkness arrives, there he is: almost falcon like in shape, the silhouette of long stiff wings, and a long tail, a nightjar flying jerkily across the sky with odd claps of his wings: a male nightjar, displaying to attract the attentions of the nearby females.

How to do it

Arrive before dusk, and find a good spot on the heath where you get as wide a view as possible, preferably with open skies: it’s a lot easier to spot the birds in silhouette than amongst the dark trees. And as with all ground nesting birds, stay on the footpath and leave the dog at home. Rumour has it that patrolling male nightjars will come to investigate if you wave a (clean!) white handkerchief in the air. Give it a go!

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…Night time can be a great time to be out in the woods. Listen for owls hooting, foxes screaming, maybe a badger blundering through the undergrowth. You may be surprised at how many birds wake up for a short song half way through the night.
If you want to hear the distinctive churring of the nightjar, check out some great film clips on the BBC website

Special spots

Chobham Common in Surrey is home to a flourishing population of nightjars. Make sure you come for the day, as there’s a lot to see on this, the largest National Nature Reserve in south east England and one of the finest lowland heaths in the world.

Berkshire, Greenham and Crookham Commons

Berkshire, Wildmoor Heath

Conwy, Cors Bodgynydd 

Devon, Bovey Heathland

Devon, Chudleigh Knighton Heath

Devon, Bystock Pools

Dorset, Tadnoll and Winfrith

Dorset, Higher Hyde Heath

Gwynedd, Gwaith Powdwr

Norfolk, Roydon Common and Grimston Warren

Suffolk, Sutton and Hollesley Commons 

Suffolk, Blaxhall Common

Surrey, Ockham and Wisley Commons