Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Nature Diary - the best places to see wildlife in May

Wild garlic in Smith's rough Photo: Kieron Huston

Wild garlic in Smith's rough Photo: Kieron Huston - Credit: Archant

Grab your sunscreen, walking boots and camera – it’s spring and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s reserves are bursting with wildlife. Let Reserves Officer Julia Gow be your guide

Lesser spotted woodpecker Photo: David Atkinson

Lesser spotted woodpecker Photo: David Atkinson - Credit: Archant

Spring Wood

‘A beautiful wood with an abundance of springtime bluebells’

On the eastern side of Staunton Harold Reservoir, Melbourne, Derbyshire

Map reference SK 379 225

All three British species of woodpecker have been recorded here. Lesser spotted woodpeckers – our smallest and least common species – have bred here recently and might well do again this year. If you are lucky you will hear the yaffling cry of the green woodpecker and you might see a great spotted woodpecker. Great and lesser spotted woodpeckers announce their presence in early spring by drumming on the tree branches but by May they are generally too busy breeding to drum much.

Please note a permit is required for Spring Wood, give the Trust a call on 01773 881188 to get yours.

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Hilton Gravel Pits

‘These worked-out gravel pits provide refuge for a number of species’

Just north of Hilton village, Derby

Map reference SK 249 315

Go hunting for purple toothwort here in May. This unusual plant is parasitic on the roots of alder, elm and hazel. Toothwort has no leaves – all you see are the ghostly orchid-like flowers amongst the woodland. Out on Hilton’s lake you should see the common terns which nest here on the artificial rafts that we provide for them. You might spot the two-leaved twayblade orchids just starting to emerge.

Lea Wood

‘Ancient woodland in the Lower Derwent Valley’

Lea Wood, Matlock

Map reference SK 318 558

Visit Lea Wood in May and there will be the unmistakable aroma of wild garlic, also known as ramsons. This plant is a member of the onion family, hence the smell! Unlike the majority of plants in this family it doesn’t have round hollow leaves but broad fleshy ones. The flowers are white and very pretty, and there are tales of country school children gathering them for newly qualified teachers. Ramsons are an indicator of ancient woodland.

To find out all the location, access and visitor details for Lea Wood, Hilton Gravel Pits and Spring Wood nature reserves, please visit or join the Trust on one of our guided wild walks this spring, visit for a full event listing.

Booking is essential for all events as places are limited. Tel: 01773 881188