Spring and Summer Species
Among the wildlife in spring and summer, insects are at their most active and nationally scarce butterflies such as Purple Emperor, White Admiral, Duke of Burgundy, a selection of Hairstreaks and Fritillaries and many Blues dance among the more common, but no less beautiful, species on display. The hunting and courtship of many Dragonfy and Damselfly species add a fascinating element and the minutiae of bugs, beetles, bees and weevils make interesting subjects to be discovered.
Many of the locally seen bird species are also regarded as nationally scarce and include raptors such as Montagu’s and Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Long-eared Owl, farmland birds such as Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Stone Curlew, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Wheatear and Quail along with many passerines such as Stonechat, Whinchat and Nightingale.
Spring is heralded by the sights and sounds of many Warblers, the swarms of Hirundines feeding on the wing and the unmistakeable sound of the Cuckoo which many regard as the official start of the English summer.
River systems, canals and lakes provide home and food for Kingfisher, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, a number of Heron species and resident wildfowl. Woodland visits give excellent opportunities to see and hear all our resident woodpeckers, tits including Marsh and Willow, Goldcrest and its close relative, the Firecrest, Crossbill, Hawfinch and the amazing Nightjar.
Although winter sees the disappearance of all but the most hardy insects, it provides an amazing opportunity to enjoy the many bird visitors which take refuge in our warmer southern UK conditions or use us as a refuelling stop on their southerly migration to Southern Europe and Africa. Quite literally anything can turn up but regular visitors include many thousands of wildfowl, including Smew, Goldeneye and Goosander, raptors such as Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Hen Harrier and large flocks of wintering thrushes can be seen as well as the world renowned, spectacular Starling murmurations. We are also proud to welcome large numbers of wintering Geese and Swans from the arctic regions.
Woodland residents are joined by Siskin and Brambling, Great Grey Shrikes can claim a hunting territory for the winter period and Waxwings may add character to anywhere where berries will provide sustenance, including supermarket car parks and residential housing estates.
All year round
We are fortunate to have a temperate climate that is used throughout the year by many species of bird. Some, taken for granted due to their familiarity, are stunningly adorned in rich colours and when studied in detail, reveal plumage that would not look out of place among their tropical cousins.
With the fortune of being in the warmest and most diverse area of the UK, Wiltshire and its neighbouring counties can provide opportunities to see and hear birds of many different habitats, from woodland, farmland and heath-land specialists to those that rely on wetlands and coastal locations for their food supply and breeding location. Although numbers and species range is swollen by migration our residents birds are numerous and fascinating which means that there are seldom times of year when tours will not be rewarded with interesting encounters.
The opportunity to not only see these subjects, but photograph them and learn about their behaviours and idiosyncrasies and develop key identification skills, will surely add to your appreciation and future enjoyment of nature watching.