Stroud’s valleys and vale are home to a fantastic array of wildlife – twenty-three sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), three Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) protecting wildlife of European as well as UK importance, a National Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site – both places of international as well as national importance for wildlife – as well as a Local Nature Reserve. Parts of the district are also in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Yet none of these places have big signs announcing their presence. They are just there, known mainly to the small band of conservationists who quietly get on with the task of looking after them.

My name is Caroline Aistrop and I’ve lived in Stroud for many years, but don’t know all these sites myself. I’ve set myself the task of discovering what wildlife spectacles are on my own doorstep and recording what wildlife is at its peak each month. Frustrated about the lack of such information, I wanted to find out what’s about and, most importantly, when so myself and others can enjoy the wildlife wonders around here. Plants usually flower for just 2-3 weeks a year, and birds sing their loudest only until they find a mate. If you miss such specific windows of time when these things are happening, that’s it until next year.

I’m concentrating upon places that are easy for others to visit and enjoy as I realise that not everyone wants to sit for hours in a hide just to see a little brown bird! This blog is my record of what I discover each month around the Stroud district (and maybe a bit beyond its boundaries as well) so that I hope you can enjoy them, too.