Introduction

Wild Time

Spring

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

 

Summer

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

 

Autumn

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

 

Winter

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

Scour riverbanks for Ratty

Water voleWater vole © Margaret Holland

Head to the riverbank to track down one of our most endangered and much-loved mammals, the water vole.

As well as looking for the animal itself, you should also try looking for the tracks and signs of water voles

Better known as ‘Ratty’ in The Wind in the Willows, the water vole was once a common resident of rivers, streams, ditches, ponds, lakes and other wet places.  Numbers dwindled after the introduction of mink and loss of habitat, and water voles have now disappeared from many former haunts.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of many volunteers and Wildlife Trusts, water voles are making a comeback in some areas. Look out for signs of their presence such as burrows in the riverbank, often with a nibbled 'lawn' of grass around the entrance. Water voles like to sit and eat in the same place, so piles of nibbled grass and stems may be found by the water's edge, showing a distinctive 45° angled cut at the ends. 'Latrines' of rounded, tic-tac sized and cigar-shaped droppings may also be spotted.

Active from April to September, spring is often the best time of year to see them because bankside vegetation is shorter so water voles are more easily seen. Be patient and you might see them foraging on the bank or hear the distinctive ‘plop’ of one dropping into the water.

How to do it

As well as looking for the animal itself, you should also try looking for the tracks and signs of water voles.  Burrows with grazed ‘lawns’ at their entrance, piles of nibbled stems and distinctive latrines are sure signs of water voles in the area.  As always, take care near the water’s edge.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below… Find out more about The Wildlife Trusts’ work for water voles at our website  and be sure to check out the “quick guide” to water voles.  And if you’ve not done so already, read the classic “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.

Special spots

The Magor Marsh nature reserve in Gwent is home to a range of habitats including damp hay meadows, sedge fen, reedbed, scrub, pollarded willows, wet woodland, a large pond and the numerous reens and drainage ditches. Following many years of mink control, water voles were released on to the reserve in the summer of 2012.  The project has been successful and water voles are now common across the reserve and are frequently seen by the public.

Rutland, Rutland Water

Hampshire, Winnall Moors

Gloucestershire, Nind

Derbyshire, Cromford Canal

Water vole © Tom Marshall