Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.
Early spring is the best time of year to see the secretive lesser-spotted woodpecker and hawfinches. Looking up at the tree-tops offers the best chance of seeing these elusive species. For classic oak woodland summer migrants like tree pipit, redstart, wood warbler, pied flycatcher and spotted flycatcher late April and May are the most rewarding times when they are all in full song. Many woodland plants are flowering in the spring and this is the best time to see bluebells, wood anemones and primroses. On the river, dippers and grey wagtails breed.
The heathland at the top of the reserve has breeding nightjars, which can be heard 'churring' in the evening. Open glades are very good for butterflies and along with common species such as the speckled wood and meadow brown, and rarer species like the small pearl-bordered and dark-green fritillaries can be seen. Golden-ringed dragonflies are common and give spectacular views as they hunt for small insects along the reserves paths.
October brings redwings and fieldfares onto the reserve as they travel westward to winter from their Scandinavian breeding grounds. Large flocks can be seen eating rowan berries at the top of the reserve. Woodcocks are also regular seen in the wood and you may be lucky enough to see one as it flies fast through the trees. Flocks of siskins and lesser redpolls are regular on alders and birches - listen for their chirping calls. In the evenings, tawny owls are regularly heard as they mark out their territories.
On clear sunny days look out for ravens; winter is an excellent time to see their dramatic tumbling aerial displays. Woodland birds form small flocks and groups of tits, finches, nuthatches and treecreepers move noisily through the wood. Great spotted woodpeckers are often heard but not seen, their sharp 'pic, pic' calls are the loudest calls in the wood.