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When to see wildlife

Wild Snowdrops


Spring is a time of growth and the emergence of new colour following the winter months.

One of the most spectacular examples of this is the explosion of bluebells that carpet many of our older woodlands.

Yoxall Lodge, Spring Wood, Charley Wood, Ulverscroft and Outwoods are all great places to see bluebells. The best time to visit is between late April and early May, as this is when they are at their most abundant.

Spring is also a good time to see amphibians like frogs and newts. During the spring they gather in ponds to mate and lay their eggs. Try the ponds at Rosliston Forestry Centre and Beacon Hill.

Meadow wildflowers


Summer is when the countryside is in bloom.

Places such as Yoxall Meadow, Willesley Wood, Billa Barra Hill, Ulverscroft and Lea Meadows are rich in wildflowers.

These wildflowers attract insects and other invertebrates. While most of the sites in this guide will support an array of interesting invertebrates, Carvers Rocks & Foremark Reservoir have a particularly rich variety that includes some nationally important species.

The warm summer months are also the best time to see reptiles in The National Forest.

While hard to spot, common lizards and grass snakes can be seen at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

Adders are known to be present at Beacon Hill. Although adders are our only poisonous snake, these shy creatures are not dangerous unless directly threatened. If you are lucky enough to see one, treat it with care and respect.

Bronzed autumn leaves


The changing colours of trees in autumn turn our green woodlands into a riot of orange, yellow and red.

Jackson's Bank, Carvers Rocks & Foremark Reservoir, Sence Valley Forest Park and Beacon Hill all provide good woodland views that showcase autumn colours.

Autumn is also a good time to see plenty of fungi (mushrooms, puffballs and toadstools). While most woodlands have a good variety of species, Spring Wood is particularly impressive.

Frosty winter lake landscape


The bare trees and open ground of winter can seem stark, but they can also reveal sights and sounds rarely seen at other times.

In early winter, the deer herds of Calke Park and Bradgate Park are at their most visible, as this is their rutting season, when stags compete for mates. This is when you could witness two stags locking antlers or hear the distinctive roar of stags across the landscape.

Winter also brings in visitors from northern climes, with sites such as Croxall Lakes and Branston Water Park attracting large numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders that come to the UK to escape the harsh winters of the Arctic circle.

Although increasingly uncommon, snowfall completely transforms the Forest. Recently planted sites such as Coton Wood and Alistair's, Bignall's & Jaguar Lount Woods become fields of white, crisscrossed with the tracks of mammals such as foxes, deer and, of course, humans.