22 October 2012
As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness enfolds us in its foggy embrace, why not get out and enjoy the wildlife sights and sounds the season has to offer.
Natural England manages over 100 National Nature Reserves (NNRs) around the country and each has something exciting to offer at this time of year, from thousand strong flocks of geese to the thrill of the deer rut, from the subtle shades of fruiting fungi to thrushes feeding on bright, bright berries – there’s something for everyone.
If it’s some spectacular birdlife you’re after, we’ve got plenty to see. At Lower Derwent Valley in East Yorkshire, whooper swans will be returning to settle in for the winter after breeding in the high Arctic. For the first time, there are around 15 marsh harriers on the Reserve – possibly one of the most northern winter roosts for this species. At Shapwick Heath in Somerset you can see huge murmurations of starlings, swirling in sync over the reeds at dusk, while out on the coast at Bridgewater Bay, the winter flocks of dunlin are massing in their thousands. You’ll see plenty of wildfowl and waders arriving at the Wash, in Norfolk, and thousands of geese at Lindisfarne, in Northumberland. As summer’s bounty dwindles, flocks of mixed thrushes can be seen picking autumn berries from the trees – you can catch these at Kingley Vale, West Sussex, and Castle Eden Dene, Co. Durham.
Few sights in England can match the majesty and drama of the deer rut – the deep bellow and the clash of antlers as the stags compete for mates make for one of autumn’s great thrills. Fallow and roe deer can be seen (and definitely heard) at Kingley Vale, whilst Humberhead Peatlands, near Doncaster, is home to our largest terrestrial wild mammal – the red deer.
If you’re looking for a more tranquil day out, then toadstools and mushrooms can provide plenty of interest without all the noise. Skipwith Common, in North Yorkshire, the Sefton coast’s Ainsdale Sand Dunes and Shropshire’s Fenn`s, Whixall & Bettisfield Mosses all have plenty of subtly shaded (and some more brightly coloured) fruiting bodies to see as you explore the Reserves.
Whatever sort of wildlife day-out you’re looking for, there’s bound to be something to appeal. Many of our Reserves have guided walks, talks and events and you find out all about them here.
Notes for editors
From The Lizard in Cornwall to Lindisfarne in Northumberland, England’s National Nature Reserves (NNRs) represent many of the finest wildlife and geological sites in the country. Our first NNRs emerged in the postwar years alongside the early National Parks, and have continued to grow since then. NNRs were initially established to protect sensitive features and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. Their purpose has widened since those early days. As well as managing some of our most pristine habitats, our rarest species and our most significant geology, most Reserves now offer great opportunities to the public as well as schools and specialist audiences to experience England’s natural heritage.
You can find plenty of images on our Flickr stream:
Starling murmuration http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalengland/6845720961/in/set-72157627865255667
For further information (media only) contact: Lyndon Marquis, 0300 060 4236, firstname.lastname@example.org, out of hours 07970 098005.