Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

Wildlife and Places to See in April! 

Here you can find out about the wildlife you can seen 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

Bluebell, WWT/Darin Smith
Bluebell - Hyacinthoides non-scripta This perennial bulb is primarily adapted for woodland living. Each spring it throws up strong shoots from its bulbs buried beneath the soil that are able to break through any tangled roots and leaf litter that there may be above. This first growth spurt of the year is normally timed to perfection at early spring so, as the leaves of the Bluebell form, they still receive plenty of energy-giving sunlight before the canopy above has fully formed for the summer. By the time the canopy does form and only a more dappled light reaches the woodland floor, the Bluebell has all but finished its growth for the year and simply awaits pollination with its stalks gracefully leaning to one side and draped in blue bells. 
Lapwing, WWT/ Darin Smith
Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus With its unique crest the Lapwing (or Green Plover) is unmistakeable as Europe’s largest and most recognisable plover. Appearing black and white from a distance, up close its upper parts are revealed to be a glossy green, with broad rounded wings. A social species which breeds in loose colonies, and outside of the breeding season congregate in large flocks in fields and pasture with Golden Plovers and Black-headed Gulls. From mid-March males try to attract a mate by performing spectacular tumbling aerial displays while calling loudly.
Common Lizard, John Notman/ WSBRC
Viviparous Lizard - Zootoca vivipara One of our six native reptile species the Viviparous Lizard is so called because it incubates its young internally before giving birth to live young unlike most other egg laying reptile species. These lizards are extremely variable in colour; the back is usually a shade of brown with darker markings often bordered in white or yellow, although rare all black varieties have been spotted. At this time of year males are at their most vibrant in an attempt to attract a mate. Both males and females can be spotted during the April-May breeding season usually when basking often on stones or logs in open sunlight.


This Month's Must See

Snakeshead Fritillary, Steve Day/ WWT

Explore North Meadow National Nature Reserve. North Meadow is an old, flower-rich hay meadow on the northern edge of Cricklade; it has a great variety of wildflowers and is of international importance as one of the finest examples of a lowland hay meadow in Europe. Best visited in spring (April – May) to see the meadow’s impressive display of Snakeshead Fritillaries. The mottled flowers are large and very distinctive, ranging in colour from their usual purple to white, pink or brownish purple.  
Find out more about North Meadow National Nature Reserve


Adder’s-tongue Fern - Ophioglossum vulgatum Named for its similarity to a snake’s tongue, despite this unmistakable appearance the relatively small Adder’s-tongue Fern can be difficult to spot especially at sites where it grows amongst long grass and herbs. Unlike other ferns its single bright green frond doesn’t uncurl as it grows instead pushing though the ground in late March or early April. Encased in this oval frond is the ‘tongue’, a tall spike that bears spores ripening from May to August. 

Spring Butterflies Spring sunshine wakes up the UK's woodland butterflies, and woodland flowers are vital for these butterflies as they emerge from hibernation. Many of our commoner butterflies will be encouraged into woodlands that have warm and sunny flower-rich tracks and glades. Find out about the spring butterflies you may see this month with our ID guide


Send in your records

All species records are important, from the most common to the rarest: plants, bird, reptiles, beetles, butterflies, mammals and more. We want to know about what you've seen in Wiltshire and Swindon and need up to date information to form an accurate picture of the state of our wildlife. If you have already sent us records, thank you very much. Don’t forget to send us any records of your sightings.