Out Now - Wildlife and Places to See in January!
Here you can find out about the wildlife you might see in Wiltshire and Swindon at the moment. Visit this month's featured site to see a wealth of wildlife, take a look at our identification guide to find out a group you are most likely to see and don’t forget to send us in your records!
Three to Spot - Waterfowl
Pintail - Anas acuta A scarce winter visitor to Wiltshire as we are on the edge of their winter range, the Pintail arrives from northern Europe and is immediately recognisable by its long tapering ‘pintail'. They can be seen in small numbers during winter in Wiltshire on shallow lakes; Coate Water SSSI and Cotswold Water Park are two good spots in Wiltshire to see them. Pintails are long-necked with small heads a curved back and pointed wings, this along with the pointed tail – which is more prominent in males – makes them fairly easy to identify.
Tufted Duck - Aythya fuligula The Tufted Duck is a common resident diving duck and can be seen in large numbers on lakes and reservoirs. Most birds are resident but the numbers increase in winter as migrants from northern Europe come to the UK. TheTufted Duck is easily recognisable by the crest on its head which is larger on males than in females. Males are glossy black on the head, neck, breast and back with bright white sides and underparts and make a whistling noise. Females are dark brown in colour with pale brown sides and make a low growling noise. Both have golden eyes and a grey bill with a black tip.
Gadwall - Anas strepera The Gadwall is resident in Wiltshire and during winter numbers are boosted with winter arrivals. Cotswold Water Park and Langford Lakes are good places to spot the Gadwall in Wiltshire as their preferred habitats include flooded gravel pits and lakes. A small and compact duck, the males have subdued markings which when seen close up are made up of very fine barring and speckling; their heads are brown with these fine markings whilst their bodies are grey with the fine markings. During the non-breeding season the male’s plumage is more similar to the females. The females are light brown with dark brown markings. The bill is dark in colour with an obvious orange stripe along the side.
This Month's Must See
Bittern - Botaurus stellaria
Winter Pine Cones
Look on the ground and beneath the leaf litter, as well as on trees themselves, as cones drop off during winter. Some have been attacked by birds, and mammals such as mice and squirrels. The shape of the cones often helps you to make a positive identification of the tree – which is often difficult with evergreens. Find out how to identify trees by cones with our ID guide
Cotswold Water Park
At 40 square miles the Cotswold Water Park is approximately the same size as the Island of Jersey. For over 50 years the area has been used for sand and gravel extraction and old quarries have been allowed to fill with water creating over 150 lakes, 10 of which have SSSI status. The Cotswold Water Park hosts internationally important numbers of wintering waterfowl (20,000+) and nationally important winter populations of Pochard, Gadwall, Coot and Great Crested Grebe. Additionally the lakes also support a nationally important breeding population of Great Crested Grebe, 20 species of dragonfly and are home to 14 out of the 18 UK species of bat.