A Forest full of wildlife

All year round you’re going to spot a huge variety of plants, birds, animals and insects in the Forest of Marston Vale. By creating woodlands and wetlands throughout the Forest, we have reintroduced some species that haven’t been around for a long time, as well as growing populations of others that weren’t too keen on the area when it was all brickworks and landfill.

Just one oak tree can host up to 500 species of wildlife! Play your part in the creation and management of vital habitats in the Forest by Dedicating a Tree to celebrate an event, or in memory of a loved one. From only £20, it's a gift that lasts longer than a lifetime. 


Here’s a few of our favourite species that you might spot at this time of year:

Spring

This is the best time of year for wildlife, as everything is either returning to the UK, or returning to life. Long tailed tits are making dome shaped nests out of thousands of bits of moss, feathers and spider’s web, which physically expand around them as their offspring multiplies. Robins and thrushes will also be nesting, whilst sand martins return to our sand martin wall in the Wetlands Nature Reserve and warblers return to the reed-beds. Between the warblers and the whinnying little grebes, there’ll be a lot more bird song throughout the Forest.

If you want to see/hear the dawn chorus in its full glory, sign up to our Dawn Chorus Bird Walk on (Sat 5th May at 4.30am) or for a slightly later version, try our Dawn Chorus for Late Risers Walk (Sat 12th May at 7am).



A ring ouzel and a wheatear in the Millennium Country Park - both will be returning this spring.

Frogs and toads have started spawning – frogs in a clump and toads in a long string – so be careful that your kids/dog don’t get too hands on in any ponds. Also, look out on the roads on damp days for crossing frogs and toads, even in places where there isn’t signage!

Frog protecting frogspawn

(Check out the frog's hand underwater, protecting the spawn)

In the insect world, you’ll start to see more butterflies as they emerge from their winter hideaways/ come out of cocoons. On sunny days, you’ll see brimstone, small tortoise shell and comma if the temperature gets high enough. Bumblebees are back - they’ll be leaving their scent behind on flowers and plants, using their feet, to let other bumblebees know they’ve been visited already. There’s some great tips about attracting bumblebees to your garden here.

small tortoiseshell and hairy dragonfly

Small tortoiseshell shot by Don Morris; Hairy dragonfly shot by Martin Green.

You’ll start spotting dragonflies from April – the most likely to emerge first is the large red damsel fly with the hairy dragonfly popping up in May. A great place to spot them is our boardwalk, down to Stewartby Lake and the Callow Mounds at the Millennium Country Park (see our map here).

There are already flowering violets (as of the end of March) but pretty soon the primroses and cowslips will start to flower, with trees like blackthorn, cherry blossom and pussy willow bursting into leaf.


For more information about the wildlife found at the Millennium Country Park, call 01234 762614 or email our Head RangerFor the wider Forest area, call 01234 767037 or email us.

Our Wetlands Nature Reserve is home to a huge variety of wildlife and plant life - did you know, you get free access all year round by becoming a Friend of the Forest from just £5 a month?