Discover the UK’s most striking spring wildlife, and where to walk to see it
Keep your eye’s peeled and see what you can spot
Come spring, if you set foot in any rural area of Britain, you’re sure to hear the exuberant bleating of new lambs and see brightly coloured butterflies fluttering by. And while those usual sights and sounds of this time of year bring much joy, there’s a world of rare wildlife out there that you may never have noticed before.
Whether you’re treating your family to a rural staycation or simply broadening your own horizons, walking just a little further afield can introduce a whole host of fresh sights to your eyes and sounds to your ears, including those rarer species of wildlife.
Read on to find out about some of Britain’s most fascinating species you could see on your walks, and where you’re most likely to spot them…
White fallow deer
While fallow deer may be the most prevalent species in the country, with numbers growing at the moment, sightings of the white variety are far less common. Nevertheless, anyone who’s seen one will know how uniquely striking they are to the eye. You’ll find white fallow deer throughout Britain, particularly in deciduous woodland and thick, low-lying vegetation. Just beware, there are other species of UK deer that occasionally have white coats, including the sika, which has been observed in the Purbeck area of Dorset.
Our riverbanks used to be replete with these wonderful creatures, however they’re now one of the UK’s most endangered mammals. The loss of many natural waterside habitats, as well as the invasion of mink, have sadly seen the population shrink, but due to recent conservation efforts, you might be lucky enough to see one on your next walk. You stand your best chance on riverbanks throughout the Midlands, although they’ve been observed as far south as Hampshire and as far north as Lancashire.
Of course, it’s not just our eyes that get to enjoy the treats that rare wildlife can bring. The nightingale’s sweet song, for example, is the perfect sonic addition to any ramble in the countryside. Migrating to our shores in the spring, this light brown beauty can be found in thick vegetation and coppiced woodland. Listen out for its distinctive call in Essex, Kent, Sussex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.
You don’t have to be a zoologist to know about the poor native red squirrel’s plight, whose numbers have been decimated by the invasive grey variety. But there are still a few corners of the country where you might stand a chance of spotting one. The 140,000-strong UK population can be found in coniferous and deciduous woodland in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the far north of England.
Cosnard’s net-winged beetle
During the warmer months, the south of England can be a surprisingly fertile breeding ground for some exotic-looking insects, and the Cosnard’s net-winged beetle is one of the rarest of them all. Its distinctive orange-brown wings help it stand out from other species, and you’re most likely to spot it flying in the hot sunshine between May and June on the South Downs, the Forest of Dean and Wye Gorge.
We’ve got ideas for hundreds of wonderful walking routes across England, Scotland and Wales, long and short, easy and challenging. Search for routes on our website. Or join a guided walk with a local Ramblers group. Find your nearest Ramblers group and choose a walk that suits your pace, fitness and interests.
Spring sees the countryside bloom into life with flowers of all shades, so see what delights you can spot next time you lace up your walking boots
For a small island nation, Great Britain enjoys more than its fair share of spectacular natural vistas.