The countryside is a beautiful and unique place and we’re extremely fortunate here in the UK to have some of the most diverse and beautiful wildlife habitats on earth! Regardless of where we live or what we do there is always time to explore a nearby nature reserve, be it an early morning stroll before work, a lunchtime escape or a full on weekend expedition. There really is something for everyone when it comes to nature and I’ve made it my mission to show the countryside at its finest, most vibrant and encourage more of us to get outside!
So a little about me to refresh your minds, as I am aware I have not posted on my blog for some time – I’m Lucy, an avid wildlife lover, nature enthusiast and recently turned fungi explorer, you might also know me from Her Country Living. I live in the heart of the countryside surrounded by lots of wildlife (some noisy owls) and a great deal of open spaces and nature reserves. I have two rescue house cats (that don’t bother the birds) and spend the majority of my free time exploring the great outdoors!
Growing up in Wiltshire, I was spoilt for choice when it came to the outdoors. With parks, fields and beautiful places weaving their way between our little towns and villages you can honestly find some of the most incredible landscapes, locations and wildlife right here in Wiltshire. From unique snakeshead fritillary flower meadows in spring to fungi fun deep in the woodlands in autumn, birds migrating at all times of the year and activities for both grownups and adults going on across the year, there is always something to see and do when you explore with the Wildlife Trusts!
Like many of you, I find it exciting to explore wildlife and understand the importance of supporting my local wildlife charities; whether that’s through volunteering, donating or just spending time on the reserves, everything counts and everything helps and means that these wonderful places are preserved for generations to come.
So, a few weeks ago, I took over the Wiltshire Wildlife Instagram page and visited a number of my favourite nature reserves. With over forty reserves to choose from, I was a little spoiled for choice but decided to pick some favourites of mine that I hadn’t visited in the winter months.
Lower Moor and Clattinger Farm
My first stop on my Instagram takeover was one of my favourite Wiltshire Wildlife reserves, I have visited here a number of times over the years and seen it in all seasons and weather!
This time of year you can expect to find beautiful reflective waters as the three lakes glisten in the evening sun, the spring buds are starting the flower as the muddy footpaths start to harden. The wild flowers are starting to emerge and all manner of wildlife is fluttering past, but it’s still a little early for things like crickets and dragonflies! However, there is still so much to see in the springtime with the wildlife waking up, you might even get lucky and spot a great crested grebe or even an otter!
My top tip: I would highly suggest doing so in the warmer months where you might see dragonflies, lapwings and an incredible carpet of snakeshead fritillaries just like those above!
A short drive from Lower Moor and Clattinger Farm is the contrasting Ravensroost Wood that reminds me of something out of Game of Thrones!
These woods are dark and rich in wildlife and all sorts of wonderful fungi, moss and little streams running off into the deep woods. When we first arrived, I had little to no idea what to expect! My partner had been to Ravensroost Wood years ago as a child and again a few more times over the years, so I was relying on him to be my guide. One of the coolest things we saw in the woods (if you check out Wiltshire Wildlife’s highlights on Instagram, you will see this) was the Ravens! I was so awestruck to see them, as they are such incredible birds and not something one expects to see that often in nature; certainly something fun to look for if you’ve got young children or are just on the lookout for some exciting wildlife!
Walking around the reserve we noticed how healthy and full of life the trees felt, there was moss everywhere and we even came across some incredible rainbow fungus called Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor, a very beautiful and common polypore mushroom you can find in woodlands and forests across the UK (and world). The name of this beautiful fungi literally translates to the meaning ‘of several colours’ and you can see why in the pictures below!
One of my favourite things about this place however is the vast number of new trees that have been planted by volunteers in a field next to the woodland. It is so humbling to see that so many of you care and support our wildlife by donating your time to the trust in this way! It’s not only great for the environment, but great for health and an incredible way to connect with nature.
In my garden and home
So, as part of my takeover I took everyone round my garden at home and talked about the importance of wild flowers and introducing nature into the garden.
One huge misconception I have noticed growing up is that slugs and snails are bad – but for me I think they are incredible and vital to breaking down any leaves and mush that I have entered my garden over the autumn and winter. Because of this, I always encourage people to relocate these little creatures to other parts of the garden and also encourage other insects into the garden whether this is through wildflowers or little patches in the garden that you let ‘grow wild’!
Did you know that in the UK we have actually lost over 97% of our wild flower meadows since the 1930s? This is for numerous reasons which we could discuss endlessly, but I think it’s much more beneficial to spend that time acting and changing things, ensuring that we bring that percentage back down and create beautiful wildflower habitats across the UK. So with that in mind, I implore you to think about introducing one of these ‘wild’ sections to your gardens, you will attract all types of new insects from beautiful butterflies to grasshoppers!
I hope you have enjoyed my takeover with the Wildlife Trust and enjoy supporting this incredible charity. All the work they do means that for generations to come we will be able to enjoy these incredible parklands, woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and all the other types of habitat that the trust manages for us.
If you would like to find out more about Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, then visit their website here: https://www.wiltshirewildlife.org