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

Look up in awe

Grey heron on nest (c) Neil Phillips

Herons return to traditional woodlands in February to nest in treetop colonies.

The best way to see herons going about their business is to visit one of the nature reserves where a bird hide is set up to overlook the heronry

Herons return to traditional woodlands in February to nest in tree top colonies.

Herons are normally solitary birds, most familiar as lone figures standing motionless at the water’s edge or quietly stalking their prey in the shallows. But in February, they give up the solo life and gather together at noisy, busy colonies to nest and raise their young.  On arrival, birds reinforce their pair bonds, with much bill-jousting and clattering, their various plumes puffed up. The soap opera of a heronry isn’t restricted to coupling.  When not courting, they are fighting with the neighbours, stealing twigs from each other’s nests or even setting their sights on their neighbour’s partner.  

In between their carousing and scrapping, the pair builds a large platform of twigs high in a tree, often using the same nest year after year which they will give a spring clean, where they then lay their brood, normally three or four eggs but sometimes up to seven in one nest.  Things quiet down for a month or so as they incubate, before the noise begins again as adults come and go, feeding their growing brood.

A tree full of large, sprawling, noisy heron nests with their angular, plumed inhabitants has a distinctly prehistoric feel to it.

How to do it

Nesting birds can be very susceptible to disturbance.  The best way to see herons going about their business is to visit one of the nature reserves where a bird hide is set up to overlook the heronry.  February is the best time to see birds displaying, while the first chicks will have hatched by April.  Famously, you can even see nesting herons in the heart of London, as there is a busy heronry by the boating lake in both Regent's and Battersea Parks.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… Look out for that more familiar colony of twiggy nests at the tops of trees, a rookery.  Often nesting in villages, rooks also start their breeding season early, with courtship and egg laying in full swing by the end of February.

Special spots

One of the best heronries to visit is Cleeve Heronry, in Avon not far from Bristol airport.  A large heronry of around 40 nests can be found in the top of the oak and ash trees here.  But best of all, you can watch live footage from the ‘heron cam’ with a cup of tea and a cake at the nearby Cleeve Nursery. 

Cheshire, Trentabank Reservoir 

Glamorgan, Coed Llwyn Rhyddid, Hensol

Hertfordshire, Stockers Lake 

London, Walthamstow Wetlands (This haven doesn’t officially open until 2017 but visitors can access the site via a day ticket for just £1.00)

Northamptonshire, Titchmarsh

Nottinghamshire, Attenborough 

Nottinghamshire, Besthorpe

Grey heron © Adam Jones