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

Wonder at wintering waders

Black tailed godwits (c) Jim Higham

Hundreds of thousands of world travellers head for our estuaries for the winter.

Time your visit for an hour or so before high tide, and the birds will be pushed up off the mud by the incoming water

The winter may feel chilly to us, but for waders who nest up in the high Arctic, January on the British coast is positively balmy.  Every autumn the tundra wastes and taiga boglands empty, and hundreds of thousands of wading birds make a beeline for the food-rich shelter of our estuaries. 

The numbers are truly astounding and so are the journeys they make.  One and a half million lapwings from across northern Europe, half a million dunlin from Scandinavia, 300,000 knot from northern Canada, 300,000 oystercatchers from Iceland and Norway, 60,000 bar-tailed godwits from north west Russia, 50,000 Icelandic redshanks and 40,000 grey plovers from the high Arctic join local birds to spend the winter jostling for space on our mudflats. 

There’s nothing quite like the clamour and swirling patterns of flocks of birds wheeling together as they come in to roost or move from one feeding site to another.  There is safety in numbers, even if the close contact with so many other birds results in some bickering and jostling.

How to do it

Time your visit for an hour or so before high tide, and you'll be there to see the birds pushed up off the mud by the incoming water.  At high tide roost sites, thousands of birds gather together, jostling for space on what remains of the higher ground.  The spring tides are the highest of the year, so will normally result in the biggest performances by the flocks.

If you can’t get to the special places listed below…  The UK combines the ideal location, on the western edge of Europe, bathed by the warm Gulf Stream, together with wetlands and coastal muds that are extremely rich in invertebrate life.  The result is perfect for wading birds.  The largest numbers can be seen on the big sheltered estuaries, places like the estuaries of the Severn, Humber, Solent, Dee, Mersey, Thames estuary and especially the Wash.  Head to one of those and you are bound to have a wader-filled day!

Special spots

The Wash, on the east coast between Lincolnshire and Norfolk is one of the most important wetlands on the North Sea, home to upwards of 500,000 birds during the winter.  The high tide roost at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire regularly attracts more than 100,000 waders, including 80,000 knot as well as oystercatchers, redshank, godwits and dunlin.

Cumbria, South Walney

Devon, Dawlish Inner Warren

Dorset, Brownsea Island

Essex, Thurrock Thameside Nature Park

Kent, Oare Marshes

Lincolnshire, Far Ings

Norfolk, Cley Marshes

Norfolk, Holme Dunes

Suffolk, Trimley Marshes

Suffolk,Dingle Marshes

Sussex, Rye Harbour

Yorkshire, Spurn National Nature Reserve

Yorkshire, Kilnsea Wetlands


 


Turnstone and dunlin (c) Barrie Williams

Ringed plovers and dunlin © Barry Williams