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

Lie in wait for an otter

Otter © Elliot Smith

The elusive, secretive star of our rivers has made a comeback

The key is patience: find a comfortable hide overlooking a pool or river where otters regularly visit, and then wait

The 20th century was a hard time for the otter.  Hunted by hounds, made homeless by the destruction of wetlands and finally poisoned by pesticides, this once widespread secretive mammal was pushed to very edge of extinction.  By the 1970s and 1980s, the otter had almost disappeared from rivers and waterways in England except for a few areas in the south-west and the borders.  They survived in Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland, but in much smaller numbers.

Luckily, things changed in the nick of time.  Both otter hunting and a range of pesticides, notably DDT, were banned during the 1970s and throughout the UK huge efforts were made to improve water quality, bringing our rivers back to life. The otter is now back on our rivers, and hopefully back for good.

Although by no means common, and normally shy of people, there are increasingly good chances of spotting this top predator

How to do it

Some reserves are regularly visited by otters. The key is patience: find a comfortable hide overlooking a pool or river where otters regularly visit, and then wait.  Pay attention to what the birds are doing.  If a flock of coot or ducks suddenly look alarmed and all swim rapidly in one direction whilst looking over their shoulders, that could be the first sign that an otter is about.  Watch along the edge of reedbeds, where otters often hunt. And remember they spend a lot of time under water, so watch for bubbles. If all else fails, otter tracks and signs are a lot easier to find than the beast himself.  Look on wet mud for footprints, recognised by their five webbed toes, and check on tree roots, riverside rocks and under bridges for ‘spraints’, otter droppings used to mark their territory.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… Otters have been found on every river catchment in the country, and can even be seen in the heart of some of our biggest cities.  But you do have to be incredibly lucky to spot one.

Special spots

Cricklepit Mill in Devon must be one of England’s best and most reliable otter spotting venues.  Otters regularly visit the 18th century watermill at Devon Wildlife  Trust’s headquarters.  And if you fail to see one you can always view recorded footage on interactive screens at the mill’s visitor centre.

Antrim, Glenarm  

Derbyshire, Willington Gravel Pits

Durham, Low Barns 

Durham, Shibdon Pond

Gwent, Magor Marsh

Hampshire, Lower Test

Hampshire, Winnall Moors

Lanarkshire, Falls of Clyde 

Lincolnshire, Deeping Lakes

Montgomeryshire, Llyn Coed y Dinas

Moray, Spey Bay

Norfolk, Barton Broad,  

Norfolk, Ranworth Broad,

Northamptonshire, Ditchford Lakes and Meadows 

Northumberland, Cresswell Pool 

Nottinghamshire, Attenborough

Pembrokeshire, Teifi Marshes 

Perthshire, Loch of the Lowes

Radnorshire, Gilfach Farm 

Somerset, Westhay Moor 

Suffolk, Lackford Lakes

Staffordshire, Doxey Marshes 

Staffordshire, The Wolseley Centre

Tees Valley, Bowesfield and Preston Farm

Tees Valley, Portrack Marsh

Warwickshire, Brandon Marsh

Wiltshire, Langford Lakes

Wiltshire, Lower Moor Farm 

Yorkshire, Staveley

Yorkshire, Wheldrake Ings

Otters © Margaret Holland © Amy Lewis