Discover wildlife and their habitats

Discover wildlife and their habitats

Posted 26th Apr 2013

To help you understand the species you're trying to spot during The Wildlife Trusts' Our Woodland Wildlife Weekend, The Wildlife Trusts have put together this handy guide of wildlife species and their habitats


- Chiffchaff: Small neat bird with a fine bill and thin legs. Its call is a soft ‘hueet' with a distinctively slow song of ‘chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff'. Lives in open deciduous woodland with some scrub.

- Long-tailed tit: Its tail is at least as long as its dumpy body, which is pink, black and white. Can have dark crown stripes. Its call is a piercing ‘tsee-tsee-tsee'. Lives in woods with bushy undergrowth and hedges.

- Great spotted woodpecker: Blackbird-sized with white shoulder patches and red under the tail. Its call is a short sharp ‘tchak', while it drums repeatedly on rotten branches in spring. Inhabits all kinds of woodland. Nests in a hole made in a tree.

- Blue tit: Small bird with a bright blue crown and a yellow breast. Tail and wings are blue on adults, green on infants. Call is a thin ‘see-see', which is clear, ringing and high pitched. Inhabits mixed and deciduous woodland, nests in tree holes.

- Treecreeper: Mottled brown on back and white on underside with a fine downcurved bill and a long stiff tail which helps the bird balance. Call is a loud thin ‘zzrreet'. Lives in almost all woodlands and nests in trees in crevices behind loose bark.

- Marsh tit (pictured left): Large-headed and short-tailed appearance with a shiny black cap, small black bib and uniform wings. Its call is a distinctive ‘pitchiuu'. Lives in mainly deciduous woodland. Nests in tree holes of alders and willows particularly.

- Chaffinch: Male has blue-grey head and pink breast while female looks similar to a house sparrow. Both have two white bars on each wing. Its call is a sharp ‘pink'. Lives in all types of woodland, nests in a neat cup of moss, grass and feathers bound with spiders' webs, usually built in a tree fork.

- Nuthatch: Large head, no neck, short tail and heavy pointed bill. Back and head are slate-grey with a long black eyestripe, while cheeks and breast are whitish and sides and under its tail, a rusty orange. Call is a loud strident ‘hwitt', song is a repetitive ‘peeu-peeu-peeu'. Lives in mixed deciduous woods, absent from Ireland and Scotland. Nests in tree cavities with entrance plastered with mud.

- Great tit: Green and yellow with white cheeks and a black cap and black stripe that is larger and better defined than that of the blue tit. Its calls include a metallic ‘pink' and a repeated ‘teacher-teacher'. Lives in woodlands and nests in tree holes.

- Stock dove: Smaller and less chunky than woodpigeons, with a noticeable black trailing edge to its black-tipped wings. Its call is a monotonous ‘roo-roo-oo'. Inhabits woods and farmland, nests in a hollow tree or burrow.

- Jay: Striking bird with a pale eye, black moustache and blue-and-black wing-flash. Streaked feathers on forehead often raised in a crest. Call is a noisy screeching ‘kscharch'. Lives in forests and parks, nests in a shallow twiggy cup in the fork of a tree.

- Coal tit: Smaller than great tit with a proportionately larger head, which is black with white cheeks and a white patch on the nape, back is grey and breast is grey-brown. Call is ‘tsee-tsee-tsee'. Lives in woodlands and prefers coniferous trees, nests in tree holes.

- Siskin: Dark-streaked greenish-yellow plumage. The male is yellower than the female, with a black cap and bib. Wingbars are yellow and the male's tail has yellow patches on either side. Flight call is either a descending ‘tilu' or rising ‘tlui'. Lives in coniferous and mixed forests, nests in a cup of twigs high up in a conifer tree.

- Goldcrest: Tiny with a greenish back and a yellow crest that becomes orange in male. The crest has a black stripe on each side. High-pitched thin call of 3-4 syllables, ‘see-see-see'. Lives in coniferous and mixed woodland, often seen in yew and cypress trees, nests in a mossy hammock high in a tree.


- Brimstone butterfly: Male's wings are sulphur-yellow on top and paler beneath with a central orange spot. The female is white with a pale green or yellow tinge with an orange central spot. Lives in open woodland throughout Britain except for most of Scotland. Flies from February-September.

- Speckled wood butterfly (pictured left): Brown with either orange or white spots. They live in woodland clearings and hedgerows. Flies from March-October.

- Pearl-bordered fritillary: Small fritillary with light gold patches, two silver spots and a border of seven silver ‘pearls' along the edges of the hindwing undersides. Upperside has an orange and black pattern. The female is larger than the male. Lives in woodland clearings, clear-felled woodland dry habitats and deciduous wood-pasture. Flies May-June.

- Duke of Burgundy: Resembles a small fritillary. Upperside of the female is usually brighter than the male's. Both have dark brown upper side with vivid orange spots around all wing edges. Inhabits open woodlands in England - absent from Scotland, Wales and Ireland.


- Bluebells: Up to 50cm tall. A bulbous perennial. Leaves are long, narrow and bright green. Flowers are bluish-purple and bell-shaped, comprising six segments that are fused at the base. Flowers between April-June. Inhabits open woodland, often where coppice management has taken place.

- Wood anemone: Up to 25cm tall. A low-growing hairless perennial. Stem leaves are long-stalked and divided into three lobes, each further divided. Flowers are up to 40mm across with 5-10 whitish or pinkish petal-like sepals. They are solitary and borne on upright stalks. Flowers from March-May, lives in open woodlands.

- Ramsons: An upright bulbous perennial that smells strongly of garlic when bruised. Each bulb produces two bright green leaves that are stalked and elongated-ovate. Flowers are up to 20mm across with six white segments. Flowers from April-June, lives in woodlands with damp or calcareous soil.

- Wild daffodils: A single, trumpet-shaped flower at the end of each stalk. The stalks are surrounded by five or six wide, blue-green leaves of varying lengths. Daffodils are most commonly yellow but you can also find them white, cream, orange and a pinkish tint either in a single or bi-colour pattern. Inhabits woods, fields and orchards. Flowers between March-April.

- Primrose: Up to 20cm tall. A clump-forming hairy perennial. Leaves are oval and tapering, up to 12cm long, and form a rosette. Flowers are 20-30mm across with five lobes that are usually pale yellow, solitary and borne on long hairy stalks arising from centre of leaf rosette. Flowers from March-June, lives in woodland rides and margins.

- Cowslip: Up to 25cm tall. Leaves are hairy and tapering, similar to the primrose but more wrinkled, forming a basal rosette. Flowers are orange-yellow, bell-shaped and 8-15mm across. Borne in drooping one-sided heads on long, upright and naked stalks. Flowers from April-June, lives on open woodland rides, grassland and scrub.

- Lesser celandine (pictured left): Up to 30cm tall. Glossy dark green leaves are heart-shaped and borne on long stalks. Flowers are 15-30mm across and comprise three sepals and 8-12 yellow petals. Flowers from March-May, lives in open woodland and hedgerows.

- Wood-sorrel: Up to 10cm tall. Leaves are trefoil and shamrock-like. Flowers are solitary, 8-15mm across, borne on slender stalks. The petals are usually white with purple veins, sometimes tinged purple. Flowers from April-May and lives in undisturbed woodland and hedgerows and is common under oaks and beeches.


- Red squirrel: Inhabits coniferous forests and woods dominated by beech. Increasingly scarce in Britain due to threat from grey squirrels and disease. Colour ranges from russet red to black and they are generally smaller than grey squirrels with tufted ears.

- Grey squirrel: North American species that has been introduced to Britain and Ireland and now dominates woodland areas due to their larger size than red squirrels. Grey fur is variably tinged with red and yellow. Very active during the day.

- Badger (pictured left): Males have a broad, domed head, while the female's head is narrower and flatter and they have bushier tails. They live in deciduous woodlands with open areas or bordering farmland. Spend most of the day in ‘setts' with extended family.

- Pine Marten: Their fur is predominantly brown but the throat is cream or pale yellow. Lives in coniferous forests but limited numbers in Britain - found only in Scotland, north Wales, western Ireland, and parts of the Lake District and Yorkshire.

- Hazel dormouse: A tiny mammal, they are agile climbers and mainly nocturnal. They live in deciduous woodland, hedgerows and dense scrub and can spend their entire lives up in the branches without ever touching the ground. You need to be very lucky to spot one.

- Red deer: The UK's largest deer, males have large, branching antlers, increasing in size as they get older. Reddish-brown in colour (grey-brown in winter), during the autumnal breeding season, known as the 'rut', males bellow to proclaim their territory and will fight over the females. Red Deer live on moorland and mountainsides, as well as grasslands near to woodland.

- Roe deer: Our most common native deer. Slender, medium-sized deer with short antlers, typically with six points, and no tail. Usually brown in colour, turning reddish in the summer and darker grey in the winter. They have a paler, buff patch around the rump. Live in areas of mixed countryside, with farmland, grassland, heathland and woodland.

- Red fox: Pointed nose and ears with a red bushy tail. Found in all habitats, from woodland areas to urban cities to mountain ranges. Peak activity is at dawn and dusk. Extremely wary of human interaction - although much of their diet is made up of our refuse.

Click here to read more on spotting woodland wildlife!  

Images courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Harry Hogg, Steve Waterhouse, Amy Lewis, Philip Precey & Don Sutherland

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