Summer wildlife highlights - Longleat Forest

A rabbit walking along the forest floor

22 August 2023

Spring wildlife highlights – Longleat Forest


In this blog our Senior Conservation Ranger, Steve Norris, guides us through his top five summer wildlife highlights at Longleat Forest… see how many you can spot during your walk!


A silver washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary

The first feature of our summer wildlife highlights is silver-washed fritillary. These large orange and brown butterflies are unmistakable and can be seen all around the village during the summer months. They are powerful and fast fliers who often ascend high into the trees. The females lay their eggs on tree trunks and, after hatching, the caterpillars crawl down the trunk to feed on violets.

Top tip!

Look for the striking adults nectaring on bramble flowers in early summer or buddleia later in the season. They are often easily approachable when feeding and, with a little patience, you should be able to take a close-up photograph.

A doormouse in the palm of someone's hand


Here at Center Parcs Longleat Forest, we are very fortunate to have a population of these rare and adorable mammals. Working with Wiltshire Mammal Group, we have installed 50 dormouse boxes and these are surveyed throughout the summer months. The habitat has to be carefully managed to meet their very specific needs, so we are thrilled to regularly find evidence of successful breeding.

Top tip!

Dormice are rare and nocturnal so they can be very tricky to spot. Why not book on a walk with one of our Conservation Rangers to learn more about our dormouse conservation scheme? You can find out more about our Longleat Wildlife Walk here: Longleat Wildlife Walk | Center Parcs.

A wasp spider on a web

Wasp spiders

Wasp spiders are one of Center Parcs Longleat Forest’s newest inhabitants! These spectacular large spiders have expanded their range North and West in recent years and were first recorded here in 2021. They construct large webs low in tall grasses to catch grasshoppers.

Top tip!

Look for their webs in the long grasses adjacent to the path around the sports lake in late summer. They are superficially similar to the more familiar webs of other orb spiders, but the female uses a different type of silk to decorate her web with a distinctive white zig-zag. Once the web is located, she will soon be seen patiently waiting in the centre. 

A grass snake in the grass

Grass Snake

The UK’s largest snake, the grass snake, can reach a length of up to 180cm! Grass snakes are shy and secretive, preferring to hide away in long grass or bask in the sun’s warmth in a safe, secluded spot. They are excellent swimmers and often prey on small frogs and newts so are frequently seen in or near water.

Top tip!

Check sunny banks and paths for basking snakes in the early morning sun. Grass snakes rely on the sun’s heat to regulate their body temperature and need a heat boost to kick-start their day.

Two emerald damselflies on a blade of grass

Emerald damselfly

Walk around any of our many lakes and ponds in mid-summer and you will almost certainly see several species of dragonflies and damselflies. The emerald damselfly has a body length of 35-40mm and is often inconspicuous amongst the more common blues, but is well worth searching out. Their numbers peak in late summer.

Top tip!

These slow-flying insects often settle on lakeside vegetation with their wings half open. Look for them resting on iris leaves on sunny days.


Spring wildlife highlights – Longleat Forest

Body Content

We hope you enjoyed our summer wildlife highlights! If you are staying with us soon, make sure you use #myCP when you post any great wildlife photos on social media!

Steve Norris

I am the Senior Conservation Ranger at Longleat Forest. My role is to help protect and enhance our wonderful forest habitat and ensure we are meeting our Biodiversity targets. This includes carrying out a wide variety of wildlife surveys so I am privileged to regularly encounter many of our fascinating wild residents.