Animals in sight on site – what to look out for

04/05/22Animals in sight on site – what to look out for

Spring is a wonderful time to be on holiday in the heart of the countryside. Following the Easter break, the landscape seems to spring to life – literally – as Spring is soon in full swing. The animals that live in the countryside are also on the move once more – from land dwellers and birds of all feathers, to an array of insects too numerous to mention. It’s a great time to look out for wildlife of all shapes and sizes, as you enjoy a country walk through the fields, along meandering footpaths and country lanes.

Common or garden

Rabbits are among the most common animals you will see on a country walk. They’re easy to spot and are always entertaining, as they scramble off towards the safety of their burrows as you approach. Squirrels seem to be everywhere these days too, from our park land, to woods and even gardens, while much rarer are hares – if you see one, there’s no mistaking it for a rabbit, as they are a completely different build, with their long, powerful hind legs.

The bird equivalent of the rabbit or squirrel in terms of sightings are probably crows or pigeons, or if you’re near ploughed farmland or the coast, gulls. We’re very fortunate in the UK to have a multitude of birds that inhabit our gardens and hedgerows, from sparrows and blackbirds to robins and wrens. You’ll see many of these on any given walk and if you don’t see them, you’ll certainly hear their songs.

Night visitors

There are many more rarer inhabitants of the countryside too. If you’re walking at dusk, especially near woodland, you might be lucky enough to spot a badger. They are probably the most timid and rarely seen of all UK wild animals. Foxes are also likely to be about at dusk, as this is time they’ll be hunting, but you do occasionally spot one traversing a field in the open in broad daylight. Dusk is also a good time of day to spot owls and bats, who are also looking for their suppers. Apart from their distinctive hooting call, owls are silent as they glide through the sky – while bats, with their distinctive flapping, can be heard in flight if you’re patient.  

Natural insight

Among the rarer animals you might encounter are stoats, weasels and occasionally pine martens. These three look very similar and one is often mistaken for the other. If you are walking country lanes, tiny mice, shrews or voles might dart across your path. If you’re walking beside rivers or canals, you may be lucky enough to spot a heron or even rarer, a kingfisher. Herons seem to be becoming a little more common these last few years and they can often be spotted poised on the bank waiting to snatch a passing fish. The iridescent blue flash of a kingfisher is unmistakable, but they remain one of the rarest of our riverside inhabitants. Near waterways and lakes, you’ll also see many of our native waterfowl and we have many species of ducks, geese, swans and coots to look out for. In woods and by rivers and ponds, it’s worth looking out for frogs and toads too, particularly if the weather is damp, or it’s the season for spawn.    

Lesser spotted

Among the birds, there are many that are often heard but not seen. In woodland, listen out for the first cuckoo call of Spring. Cuckoos are surely the one bird that everyone has heard, but they are very difficult to spot. Even woodpeckers, another bird that makes a very distinctive sound, are seen more often – their black and white back and flash of red on their head easy to identify among the woodland greenery. In Springtime, woods ring with the highly distinctive rat-at-at-at of the woodpecker drilling a hole in the trees with their beak. We have two species of woodpecker resident in the UK, the great spotted and the lesser spotted. The lesser spotted woodpecker is so-called because you don’t see it as often as the great spotted (okay, we might have made that last bit up).

Wherever you are walking, in whatever environment, keep alert and your eyes peeled – you never know what you might see, especially if you book a stay and explore our onsite woodland.