Connect with nature

Connect with nature throughout the year

Every month will have a different theme and we will be promoting resources and activities on this page as well as publicising related projects and events.

Spending quality time with nature can reduce anxiety, balance your mood and help you feel more positive. Take a moment to notice nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you see on your daily walk or in your garden. 

July’s Theme – Big Butterfly Count

Get involved in this year’s Big Butterfly Count and contribute to the world’s largest survey that will help butterflies to thrive.

The Big Butterfly count will take place between Friday, 12 July and Sunday, 4 August

Taking part is easy – find a sunny spot and spend 15 minutes counting the butterflies you see. View the handy butterfly identification guide and submit sightings on the Butterfly Conservation website

Butterfly Conservation is encouraging people to use their identification chart or free app to spot and record 18 species of common butterflies and two day-flying moths during the three week period.

Butterfly scientists will use the information from the three week Count to assess where conservation efforts should be targeted in the future. The data is crucial to specialists wanting to learn more about the population and habits of various butterflies.

The mental health charity Mind supports the Big Butterfly Count, as it acknowledges the numerous benefits that nature has on wellbeing.

Sir David Attenborough has also promoted the importance of butterfly watching for mental health, encouraging the public to take part:

“Spending time with nature offers us all precious breathing space away from the stresses and strains of modern life; it enables us to experience joy and wonder, to slow down and to appreciate the wildlife that lives side-by-side with us.”

Butterflies and moths are sensitive indicators of the health of our environment. Find out how you can help them on the Butterfly Conservation website, or join your local branch of Butterfly Conservation - Upper Thames branch

Take action for wildlife at home 

The Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

BBOWT tells you how to help wildlife in your garden including providing a regular supply of water.


The RSPB bird identifier lists 405 species of birds found in the UK, including some rare overseas visitors. You can also Identify a bird with the RSPB bird song identifier

The RSPB gives you ideas for activities and will help you to plan simple tasks ‘perfect for your patch’ whether it is a window box, outdoor space or garden.

Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust has gathered some ideas to help you and your family enjoy a summer visit to a wood near you. Woodland Trust woods in Cherwell include:

Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre

You can also share your wildlife sightings with staff at the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) who will add them to their database and make sure your records are used in local-decision making.

Oxfordshire Mammal Group

Find out about a variety of mammals in the County including the hedgehog. In Oxfordshire, hedgehogs (listed as European hedgehog) are widespread but declining and known records can be seen on this County map

Kirtlington Hedgehog Street

Kirtlington Hedgehog Street is connecting gardens in the village to give hedgehogs enough space to breed and to help keep them off the roads. Why don’t you create a hedgehog street in your local area?

More about hedgehogs

More information about hedgehogs is available from the British Hedgehog Preservation Society

Habitat Heroes

With natural nesting sites in decline, adding a nestbox to your garden can make all the difference to your local birds - see how to build a bird box.  Always get an adult to help with tools!

Make your garden hedgehog friendly and watch out for visitors. Why not talk to your neighbours about creating a hedgehog hole in your garden fence or build a hedgehog home? Why not create a hedgehog highway like Kidlington?

Five Ways to Wild Wellbeing 

Building these five actions into your everyday life can improve your mental and physical health:

  • Take notice of the everyday wildness on your doorstep. Then contribute to Nature’s Calendar
  • Connect with the people around you, share your wildlife experiences (see 3 Community Gardens section above)
  • Learn something new outdoors - read the spotter sheets and nature activities
  • Be active - go outside for a walk or explore your local wild places (download the Go Jauntly walking app)
  • Give - turn your garden or community space into a haven for wildlife (see Take action for wildlife at home tab)


Swift Conservation

Our swifts come back from Africa in late May and quite possibly there will be some nesting near where you live. You may see them when out walking, flying low over roof-tops or making screaming calls as they go. No other British bird behaves like this. It’s an indication there are nest sites nearby. You might even be lucky enough to spot one returning to its nest hole under the eaves of a building.

How can you help?

The population of Swifts is nearly 60 per cent lower than it was 25 years ago.  In 2021 it was moved onto the Red list of birds of greatest conservation concern (along with house martins and green finches) because of this decline. So Swifts need all the help we can provide or they will vanish from the UK. In colder wet weather they feed over local ponds, lakes and reservoirs but on fine days they will be high overhead, feasting on flying insects.

Noting down when and where you see swifts can help the Cherwell swifts conservation project by increasing knowledge of local populations, enabling the protection of nest sites and asking for new ones in buildings through the planning process. Swift bricks can be included in the fabric of new buildings, including home extensions, and nest boxes can be fitted to existing buildings.

Please send any records of birds going into nests, screaming parties and low-flying swifts to Chris Mason, the co-ordinator of the Cherwell swifts conservation project. If you are interested in putting up a nest box, or including Swift bricks in a new build project, Chris is able to advise on what, where and how.


See the Wild About High Fliers guide to learn more about these amazing birds - as well as swallows and sand/house martins, why they matter and how you can help them.

Nesting swifts

You can see nesting swifts on the Sibfords Swifts nestbox webcams.  Visit the swift-conservation website for more information.

The Big Bicester Swift Survey 2024

Look out for swifts as they arrive back in Britain from Africa at the beginning of May and help with ‘The Big Bicester Swift Survey 2024’.

Download the leaflet