5 ways to get involved with nature

Put a spring in your step and lift your spirits by engaging with the natural environment. Try a spot of birdwatching; take a walk whilst admiring the view across the water; gaze up at the night sky; spot wildlife, and volunteer with us in the great outdoors.

Take a walk

Explore a scattering of nature trails and cycle paths around the lakes, suitable for the whole family to enjoy. Heighten your sense of wellbeing, lift your mood and get inspired by immersing yourself in nature by the water and in calming woodlands.

Look for signs of spring in the flowers blooming around the lakes. Some traditional favourites to spot are daffodils, snowdrops and primroses. Admire the white petals of blackthorn and wood anemone, the bright yellow of celandine and cowslip, delicate wood sorrel, dog’s mercury, and dog violets.

Soon, you can expect to see bluebells, wild garlic, wood forget-me-not and cuckooflowers. The wildflower meadow at Wimbleball boasts some beautiful orchids too.


Rose Summers Photography

Spot wildlife in the great outdoors

Our lakes are home to an abundance of flora and fauna. Why not go exploring and see what you can spot? However, be careful not to disturb any wildlife you come across!

There are all sorts of wildlife hotspots around the lakes; for example, at Wimbleball you might find wildfowl, hedgehogs, weasels and even the iconic Exmoor red deer.

Now spring has arrived, keep a look out for flashes of colour in the sky as the butterflies emerge!

You might spot the bright yellow wings of the brimstone butterfly, or the distinctive peacock butterfly. Two particularly special species are based at our sites; the marsh fritillary is an endangered species, and conservation work to manage the Rhos pasture is currently happening at Fernworthy to promote the species’ population there.

The small pearl-bordered fritillary, Boloria selene, is found at Wimbleball, identifiable by an orange and black colour, with several white pearl markings on the hind wings, bordered by black chevrons. These can be found flying from late May to mid-June around the northern arm of the lake, within Hurscombe Nature Reserve.

On the ground, the hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is a rare and protected mammal native to the UK. Despite becoming locally extinct in some places throughout the UK, the species is present at some of our sites. Dormouse surveys will be carried out at Roadford in May and September, and spaces are available to attend if you book; please note, it is not permitted for members of the public to open boxes. If you are interested in wildlife recording then please Emma at escotney@swlakestrust.org.uk

At night, you might also see some bats – for example, there is a maternity roost of brown long eared bats near the campsite at Wimbleball, so you might see them flying around at night hunting for airborne insects. There will be bat box checks occurring every month from April; as above, please contact Emma if you are interested in getting involved.

Go birdwatching

Bird hides are located at many of the lakes – a great place to try a spot of birdwatching! Come and spend a day amongst the wildlife and relish the peace and quiet of the landscape. Look out for wildfowl and wading birds in particular. You might even glimpse a starling murmuration at Wimbleball or Crowdy! With the onset of spring, birds will be gathering nest material, so you are likely to see them flying repeatedly back to the same spot. Birds will start migrating for the summer too; for example, chiffchaffs will start arriving from the Mediterranean and Western Africa. Try to become familiar with their songs and appearances, and just see how many interesting species you come across.


Sarah Rendell

Volunteer

A great way to get involved with nature could to be volunteer with our Countryside Team at the lakes. Help out with environmental improvements and site maintenance, or engage with visitors, providing them with useful information about the site and the Trust. In addition to directly working outdoors amongst nature, there are all sorts of personal benefits to gain from volunteering, including friendship, company, getting active and learning new skills.

Interested? Click here for more information about who to contact for volunteering.

Dark Skies

Pay a visit to Wimbleball or Siblyback after dark and look up to the sky! Located within Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve on Exmoor, Wimbleball is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site and is the perfect place to stargaze – a fantastic way to engage with nature and the outdoors in its greatest form. Bodmin Moor was also designated as an International Dark Sky Landscape in July 2017; thus, stunning views are awaiting you when you look up at the night sky.

The International Dark Sky Association works to protect the night skies for present and future generations, spreading awareness about the importance of the night time environment as a natural resource for all life on Earth and the dangers of light pollution.


David Gould

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