Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Chris Noyce sets out the top five places to see wildlife around the county in November.

Often signalling the onset of winter, November can be a harsh and challenging time of year for people and wildlife alike, but there’s just as much nature to see on walks during the colder months of the year as in other seasons.

There are dozens of beautiful and fascinating animal and plant species that can only be seen in winter, and at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust we’re lucky to host many of these species at our network of 40 nature reserves that span the county.

All of our nature reserves are free to visit, so there’s no reason not to take a stroll to your nearest one this month to see what you can see. You can find full information about the reserves at www.wiltshirewildlife.org/. Enjoy!

Lower Moor Cricklade, SN16 9TW OS map 169; Grid ref: SU007939

• Wheelchair access to one bird hide and across the boardwalk to Mallard Lake. From this point, footpath can be muddy

• Dogs on leads welcome

Lower Moor is the gateway to Clattinger Farm, Oaksey Moor Farm Meadow, and Sandpool Nature Reserve. From Lower Moor you can walk into the other reserves and explore a landscape of fascinating contrasts. The reserve is a mosaic of three lakes, two brooks, ponds, and wetland scrapes linked together by boardwalks, ancient hedges, woodland, and meadows. The lakes are a great place to watch grey herons hunting in the shallows, whilst on the water, winter visitors include teal, pochard, goosander, gadwall, and occasionally smew. If you’re lucky, you may even see the blue flash of a kingfisher. Snipe also visit the wetlands and damp meadows through the winter months.

You can enjoy the birdlife from hides at Swallow Pool and Cottage Lake – the latter is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Water voles and otters use Flagham Brook, while Mallard Lake is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its distinctive aquatic plants, which include rare stoneworts.

Jones’s Mill Pewsey, SN9 5JN OS map 157; Grid ref: SU169611

• Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs

• Dogs on leads are welcome

Jones’s Mill is a fen, made up of wet woodland, ponds, and wet grassland. Its peaty soils are fed by natural springs and the Salisbury Avon flows through its centre. In the wet areas it’s best to stick to the boardwalks as water bubbles and shimmers at your feet. Paths through the rest of the reserve can be a little uneven, so take care as you explore.

The reserve has ditches, ridges, and furrows – evidence of its past use as water meadows. It is home to wildlife that thrives in wet conditions: water voles, dragonflies, the elusive water shrew, and birds such as kingfisher, snipe, and heron. Great horsetail grows in the wet woodland; its bristles have a high silica content, making them look like bottle brushes.

Look out for belted Galloway cattle grazing the wet grassland, keeping vegetation in check to help maintain a rich diversity of plants. Rare plants include the bog bean, bog pimpernel, and flea sedge.

Langford Lakes Steeple Langford, SP3 4NH OS map 130; Grid ref: SU037370

• Suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs

• Please note that in the interests of wildlife, dogs are not allowed on this reserve.

Nestled in the Wylye Valley between Salisbury and Warminster, Langford Lakes Nature Reserve is an ideal place for bird-watching. The four lakes provide a vital stopping-off point and resident habitat for around 150 different bird species. The reserve has a relaxing atmosphere with good, level paths and you can enjoy watching wildfowl from five hides overlooking the lakes. You may even see some rarities such as osprey, while common residents include kingfisher, water rail, and gadwall.

As winter advances, shoveler and wigeon join the other ducks present all year round and occasionally the endangered and secretive bittern pays a visit. Brown trout also begin to spawn in the clean gravel reaches of rivers.

The on-site Kingfisher Café serves locally produced food and drink, and (at time of writing) is open on weekends with social distancing measures in place. The veranda overlooking the main lake is the perfect place to bird-spot whilst sipping on a bowl of hot soup or a cup of tea. Family and educational activities are run at the two centres on the reserve, which are available to hire.

Green Lane Wood Trowbridge, BA14 6GP OS map 143; Grid ref: ST8742057456

• Only suitable for wheelchairs in the nature park

• In the interest of wildlife, dogs must be on leads in the woods

This ancient oak woodland was left to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust in 1991 by its previous owner, who had lived in a cabin in the wood. The open part of the wood is coppiced, encouraging woodland flowers such as Solomon’s seal, stinking iris, and greater butterfly orchid to grow.

Autumn offers striking leaf colour and fungi, and by January and February you may hear the hammering of the great spotted woodpecker. Look out for birds such as nuthatch and jay, or even a treecreeper walking up the side of a tree trunk in search of food. Roe and muntjac deer are hard to spot, but you may be lucky!

The rare Bechstein’s bat also makes its home in the wood, roosting in hollow or rotten trees – although it has also been known to use bird and bat boxes. You may also see some fallen sweet chestnuts, with their prickly cases.

Green Lane Wood connects with neighbouring Biss Wood and Green Lane Nature Park – why not enjoy a walk through them all while you’re there?

Clouts Wood Wroughton (near Swindon), SN4 9DG OS map 157; Grid ref: SU136800

• Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs

• Dogs on leads are welcome

A walk through this Site of Special Scientific Interest takes you from streamsoaked valley floor up steep slopes to level land at the top. You will find mossy gnarled boles, splendid spreading trees, and abandoned water cress beds.

Most trees are 50 to 100 years old, although a few oaks are around 200. Because of the wood’s great age, 29 ancient woodland indicator species grow among its wildflowers.

We leave some areas with a dense canopy for large old trees and to provide dead wood for fungi, beetles, and hole-nesting bats and birds. In autumn, look for shaggy parasol mushrooms, stump puffballs, and velvet shank toadstool.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the green and great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper and chiffchaff (which sounds as though it’s repeating its name). Other birds such as blackcap and goldfinch like the coppiced areas and you may even spot a roe deer.

Clouts Wood is situated between Markham Banks Nature Reserve and King’s Farm Wood and Diocese Meadows; combine a walk through all four areas to enjoy contrasting landscapes.

Check out our Welcome to Wiltshire guide with things to do, charity updates and more
Subscribe to Wiltshire Life magazine