Forest of Bowland Wildlife Calendar

January

Berry filled hedgerows attract large flocks of feeding Redwings and Fieldfares. In the fields huge flocks of starlings feed, putting on mesmerizing flight displays as they head off to roost. Reservoirs have an influx of overwintering birds, such as Canada geese, Whooper Swans, Red Throated Divers and Teal.

Best places to visit – Stocks Reservoir and Abbeystead reservoir for overwintering wildfowl. Gisburn forest and Stocks Reservoir for spectacular views of starlings coming in to roost. Get there an hour before dusk.

February

Even though it is still early in the year, Grey squirrels are starting to get amorous and can be seen chasing each other at high speed through the trees. Much to farmers annoyance, moles set off to look for mates creating lots of molehills in the process. Treecreepers are more easily seen in the bare trees winkling insects out of fissures in the bark. Snowdrops are in flower. Still large flocks of birds in the fields.

Best places to visit

Woodlands, Holme Wood, Grizedale and Caldervale

March

The short grass makes hare watching easier and you may be lucky enough to see a female boxing unwanted suitors on the nose. March sees the welcome return of Curlews, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Lapwing. Woodpeckers start drumming on the trees.

Best Places to visit

Bleasdale and Caldertop Cottage public hide are good places for hare watching and to see large flocks of lapwing and other returning waders.

April

March – April sees the return of Frogs and Toads to their breeding ponds. Bumble Bee Queens come out of hibernation and can be seen feeding en-masse on willow pollen. Primroses and Wood Anemones and Blackthorn are flowering now. Ospreys pass through the area on the way to their breeding grounds. Woodland birds proclaim their territories. Swallows and Sand Martins return. Waders nest and lay eggs.

Best Places to Visit

Beacon Fell country park, the pond outside the visitor centre for breeding frogs and newts. Stocks Reservoir for frogs and toads. Woodlands for flowers and birdsong. Stocks Reservoir in early Aprils for possible sightings of Osprey and Swallows and Sand martins feeding over the water.

May

Bluebells, Wild Garlic,Red Campion, Stitchwort, Garlic Mustard and Hawthorn flower, creating a bonanza for butterflies and other insects. Look out for Green Veined Whites and Speckled Woods.  Waders  have young now, and you may see the fluffy Oystercatcher chicks and the little lapwing chicks that look like miniature versions of their parents. Skylarks singing and displaying above moorland.

Best places to Visit

Brock valley and the “hanging woods” of the Lune Valley for spectacular displays of Bluebells, Wild Garlic and other spring flowers. Clougha, Dunsop Valley, Caldertop, Bleasdale, Kesden road and Bowland Knotts for breeding Wader and Skylarks.

June

Wildflowers are in full bloom swathes of Ox-Eye Daisy appear by roadsides. Cow Parsley, Meadowsweet, Ragged Robin, Yellow Rattle and Orchids flowering. Damselflies and Dragonflies flying over water looking for mates. Cotton grass flowers on blanket bog. Look out for Hen Harriers hunting over upland fields and moors.

Best Places to Visit

Dalehead Chapel for wildflowers. Black Moss Reservoir for swathes of Buttercups in the fields and Ragged Robin on marshy ground. Stocks Reservoir and ponds at Beacon Fell country park for Damselflies and Dragonflies. Cross Hills and Salt Hills quarries for limestone loving wildflowers. Caton Wind Farm for easy access to blanket bog. Cross o Greets and Langden valley in the Trough for Hen Harriers.

July

Baby hedgehogs may be seen at dusk feeding with their Mum. Hogweed, Pink Valerian, Meadowsweet, Blackberries, Thistles, Nettles and Knapweed all flowering attracting butterflies, micro moths and soldier beetles. In hedgerows Honeysuckle flowers attracting the impressive Honeysuckle Fly.  Pied Wagtails and Swallows are all busy feeding their young and Little Owls and Spotted Flycatchers are fledging. Lizards sun themselves on sandy banks.

Best Places to Visit

Langden valley and Gisburn forest for Lizards.  Stocks Reservoir and the lanes around Downham, Twiston and Rimington for wildflowers.

August

This is the month when the Heather flowers turning the fells purple.Wild mint, Cranesbills, Harebells  and Common Knapweed flowering. At the end of August, Ospreys pass through heading back on migration. Dragonflies hawk above water and treetops in search of prey. Grasshoppers chirping noisily in fields, Ladybird larvae on grasses, Red Bartsia flowers in unimproved fields and Cuckoo Pint berries are forming in hedge bottoms.

Best Places to Visit

Dunsop Valley and the Trough for heather. Cross o Greets, Beacon Fell and Gisburn forest for Dragonflies and Grasshoppers. Clougha and lanes around Downham for Cranesbills and other wildflowers. Stocks Reservoir and Widdop Moor towards the end of the month for sightings of Osprey.

September

Hedgerows are bursting with Hawthorn berries, Rose hips, Sloes, Blackberries, Crab apples and Hazelnuts, attracting all sorts of bird and animal life, with butterflies and other insects feeding on the pecked and damaged fruit. Watch out for Pipistrelle bats feeding above country lanes on warm evenings. Swallows are getting ready to leave, gathering on phone lines and around cow sheds for a last feast on the flies they attract. Jackdaws gather at dusk into large groups before heading off to roost.

Best Places to Visit

Downham. Twiston, Caldervale and Brock valley for hedgerow fruits and feeding bats.

October

Ivy flowers and provides a boost for butterflies prior to hibernation. Flocks of Goldfinches feed on thistleheads growing on field margins. Conkers and acorns attract squirrels and Jays who lose their usual nervousness as they busily stock up for winter. Broom Moth caterpillars can be found  feeding on bracken fronds. Trees start to change colour and fungi sprout beneath them and in hedge bottoms and fields.

Best places to visit

Woodlands, Dunsop Valley, Caldervale, Brock valley and the “hanging woods” of the Lune Valley for autumn colour, fungi and Jays.  Dunsop Valley, Caldertop Cottage and Bleasdale for flocks of feeding Goldfinches. Cross o Greets, Kesden road and Bowland Knotts for late feeding Broom moths. Flowering Ivy on sunny walls attract Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells to feed.

November

Large flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares have formed and feed on Hawthorn and Beech mast on and beneath laneside trees. Blue, Great and Coal Tits form flocks that feed higher up in the trees and are often joined by Bramblings. Most trees have lost their leaves by now, apart from the Oaks. Early November can be a good time to spot Common Darter Dragonflies. In some years there are large influxes of Waxwings to feed on Rowan berries in hedgerows. This can also be the best month to look for fungi, look out too for Squirrels picking fungi to store in their dreys overwinter. Large gatherings of Buzzards sometimes occur, maybe pairing up.

Best Places to Visit

Lanes around Downham, Twiston and Rimington for flocks of Tits and Bramblings. Upland hedgerows around Slaidburn, Dunsop Valley and Gisburn forest, with Rowan for Fieldfares, Redwings  and if you are lucky Waxwings. The lake at Browsholme Hall for Common Darter Dragonflies (open 1st Sunday in the month). and look to the sky's anywhere for views of Buzzards.

December

Decembers often mild with birds and animals still active. Any snowfall makes familiarizing yourself with animal tracks easy and you'll be amazed how busy the countryside is. Even though they have lost their leaves, bare trees can still be identified by their silhouettes and bark. In upland fields look out for Stoats in ermine dashing by. Barn Owls can often be seen during the day hunting for voles and making the most of the shorter days. On the fells look out for short eared owls  busiest just before dusk.

Best Places to Visit

Bashall Eaves, slopes of Pendle, Cross o Greets for Short Eared and Barn Owls. Bleasdale for Ermine. Look for tracks in snow by gateways and along fence lines.