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:


Bracket fungi and mushrooms
Bracket fungi and mushrooms

This is the best time of year to look out for fungi (but please don’t pick or eat any, unless you’re an expert as they can be poisonous!) For most of the year, fungi lies hidden beneath the surface -  the toadstools that we see are actually the fruiting body of the fungus - their equivalent of an apple on a tree. Fungi play a vital part in woodland ecology. They help to recycle nutrients from dead or decaying organic matter so you’ll see them in loads of random place, on trees and deadwood - many animals depend on them for food.

When gall wasps lay eggs in acorns they develop into strange looking things called galls – there are loads of types of galls out there (some prettier than others); but this year ink from crushed oak galls is going to be used to write the Tree Charter!

Gall on rosehip and Oak gall 
Galls on rosehip and oak

You may have noticed a lot more spiders inside your house now that the weather has turned, but keep an eye out for webs in the grass and hedges, glistening with morning dew.

Frogs and toads will be busy feeding on insects and slugs, preparing for hibernation.

Brimstone and red admiral butterflies
Brmistone and red admiral butterflies

You might spot some late butterflies like the red admiral, brimstone or speckled wood, or dragonflies like the common darter and migrant hawker. Before long, they’ll be winding down for winter.

Greenfinch, Wren and Blackbird shot by Bob Hok (2017)

At this time of year a lot of birds are obviously migrating, so you never know what rare or unusual species you might see. As there are so many berries and seeds everywhere, you’ll start to see feeding flocks of redwings and fieldfares, and large groups of geese gathering to graze and flying overhead in that distinctive ‘v’ shape.

You’re likely to see starling murmurations and hunting barn owls and kingfishers (especially at the Grange Estate, along the Elstow Brook).

Starling murmuration shot by Bob Hook (2015)

For more information about the wildlife found at the Millennium Country Park, call 01234 762614 or email our Head Ranger. For 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?