After an indulgent Christmas of festive food, piles of presents and fun with family and friends, a peaceful, refreshing walk in the countryside is the perfect way to escape the sofa and re-connect with nature. The RSPB’s Top Ten Boxing Day Walks is a great place to start; RSPB nature reserves are countrywide and are open on Boxing Day.
Burton Mere Wetlands, Cheshire
Welcome to a winter wildlife wonderland, buzzing with birds. Probably the most spectacular, are the thrush and starling flocks. Also look out for hen harriers and whooper and Bewick’s swans.
Crook of Baldoon, Dumfries & Galloway
Enjoy breath-taking views and the sight of thousands of winter visitors including pink-footed and barnacle geese. There’s a Boxing Day walk at 2pm: details are on the RSPB website.
Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire
Thousands of birds will make this fantastic place their home for the colder months. The reserve is very good for winter golden plover flocks, a starling murmuration, farmland birds and numerous birds of prey.
Labrador Bay, Devon
This nature reserve is home to the cirl bunting, a rare little bird whose population is almost entirely restricted to south Devon. Cirl buntings sing all year round, so listen out for their rattling calls.
Leighton Moss, Cumbria/Lancashire border
Leighton Moss is the largest reed bed in north-west England. In winter, teals, shovelers and gadwalls congregate in large numbers. You may also see bitterns, siskins, wigeons, peregrines and merlins.
Portmore Lough, County Antrim
Right now, there will be large flocks of golden plovers and lapwings on the flooded meadows. Pochard and tufted duck numbers are at their peak. Greylag geese and whooper swans noisily come in to roost.
Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex
This tranquil, wildlife oasis is a perfect getaway for a festive day out. Thousands of wintering ducks, geese, swans and waders use the flooded brooks.
Sandwell Valley, West Midlands
This reserve is a great starting point for exploring the beautiful green space that is Sandwell Valley Country Park. Winter wildfowl including wigeons, teals, pochards, shovelers and goosanders find refuge here.
Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk
A stroll from the visitor centre down to the beach takes you past reed beds and shallow lagoons. Relax on the benches or watch a variety of birds from spacious, wheelchair-accessible hides.
St Aidan’s, West Yorkshire
St Aidan’s hosts amazing views and is ideal for a bracing walk. Large flocks of wigeon graze on the wet grassland. Flocks of wintering waders take to the skies when a peregrine appears. Neighbouring Fairburn Ings will also be open.
To find our more about the RSPB’s reserves, please visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/find-a-reserve/reserves-a-z/