A blog written by Young Ambassador Charlie Murphy

Throughout the last week in October, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust ran the Big Wild Walk as part of their 30 by 30 campaign. The 30 by 30 campaign is one that has seen the Wildlife Trusts try to restore 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030. This is obviously a hugely important subject and something everyone should be passionate about, so personally helping to raise awareness by doing my own 30km walk was a good opportunity to do some wildlife watching, exercise and promotion for a vital cause. It’s also an opportunity to note the amazing species I can find on my doorstep and more importantly the ones that need protecting.

I left my house early at 6am to the fantastic sound of the local tawny owl ‘kewick’-ing under the stars. As the sky got lighter, I managed to spot several bats, too.

I found some hares once dawn had broken. Their crepuscular nature meant they were at home in this early morning light as they lolloped along some of the farm tracks I was also enjoying. As the sun started to rise, the first birds start to emerge. I was being kept company by the robins singing and then the blackbirds. The simple joy of hearing the first bird in the morning is not to be underestimated and losing this would be a tragedy for all of mankind.

Woodland walkwaySome of the autumn colours on show for Charlie's walk

The farmland birds were also worthwhile, and a group of birds I have missed during my time away at university. Delightful little yellowhammers often perched on top of bushes and hedgerows as I walked along, and corn buntings and skylarks were in regular company of each other as they joined up for winter flocks in stubble fields. These birds were special in their own right as they make it onto the red list of British species indicating the tragic decline countrywide. Thankfully they still hold on in Wiltshire, but they are joy I would love to be shared throughout the country and not lost altogether.

As the morning further progressed, birds of prey started to come visible with buzzards, kestrels and red kites being present. Red kites in particular, are a conservation success story, spreading from just a handful of pairs to their numerous haunts now. 

The midway point of my walk was at Langford Lakes, where a kingfisher flew past the aptly named Kingfisher Café. It’s here I could get some of the best coffee and cake I’ve had whilst looking at some of Wiltshire’s best wildlife!

As I continued around the lakes, the birds that are coming for the winter have started to show up. Lapwing, now joined up from there some of breeding grounds pairs, had grouped together into a delightful swirling mass that rose in the fields behind East Clyffe pond. On the pond itself some snipe were at the back, quietly probing away.

BreakfastCharlie's view at breakfast

Unfortunately, once I had had breakfast overlooking the lakes it was time to head back. Going back a similar route fieldfares were very prevalent on the ground, freshly arrived from Scandinavia. They were out feeding in stubble fields and perched up on the hedgerows.

Arguably the birding highlight of the walk, however, came closer to home. A peregrine falcon, seemingly a female by the large size, flew directly overhead! The world’s fastest bird and my sixth bird of prey species on my walk in just a few hours!

She ended up topping off what was a very good day and a very nice walk, all in aid of an idea that should be important to everyone. Here in Wiltshire we are lucky enough to have some of the UK’s most threatened wildlife, but it shouldn’t be that way - these animals should thrive across the country and by demanding 30% protection by 2030 we can at least secure a future for the UK's iconic wildlife.

See Charlie's list of bird sightings

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