Spring has finally arrived in the UK today on the 20th of March! The weather is warming up, days are getting longer and lambs are starting to appear in the countryside. It is a busy time for us at Bagshaw Ecology as many animals are at their most active during the spring season. Now is also a great time for you to see our native wildlife and you may start to notice to reappearance of hibernating species such as hedgehogs, frogs and bats. Here are a few key things to look out for over the coming months-
- Migration, Migration, Migration
The change in season causes a mass movement of birds in the UK. Many bird species migrate away from the UK to escape the cold, wet winters and then return in spring to breed and raise their young. These include the house martins, swallows and swifts, the distinctive cuckoo, the nightingale and turtledoves. Many bird watchers like to record these first arrival dates and organisations such as BirdTrack use these to build a picture of annual bird migration. One of the best spots to see migrating birds is Spurn Point in East Yorkshire!
- Love is in the air
For many species spring is the best time to start a family. You may hear the chorus of frogs and toads in your local pond and even see the masses of jelly like spawn in the water. Frogs lay their eggs in clumps whereas toad spawn is more like strings. In a few short weeks these eggs will have hatched into little tadpoles, which will then metamorphosise into froglets.
You may also noticed the dawn chorus is much livelier as male birds try to woo the females as well as defend their territories. Bird nesting season runs from the 1st of March until the 31st of July and you can help nesting birds by avoiding cutting your hedges or trees. The fur removed from grooming your shedding cats and dogs is also ideal nesting material.
- Beautiful blooms
The landscape starts to gain back some colour as plants start to flower. Some iconic species include bluebells, daffodils, snowdrops and violets but if you are lucky, you may also see early purple orchids or carpets of lesser celandine in woodlands.
- Queen Bees
With the emergence of all these nectar filled flowers follow the bumble bees. The queens who have been hibernating over the winter awaken and begin searching for a suitable place to make a hive. Once she has done this, she must gather enough food and resources to lay her first clutch of eggs. During this time, you may come across bees which seem drowsy or lethargic. These may be queens who have being caught in a cold snap and lack energy, you can provide a mixture of sugar water in a bottle cap to help them on their way.
- Boxing matches
Alice in wonderland is famous for the mad March Hare but they’re not just found in fairy tales. Hares really do go a bit loopy during March! This is the time you are most likely to see this secretive species, as females literally box with the males to deter their advances. One of the best places to see the brown hare locally is Lyme Park in Cheshire but they can often also be seen on agricultural fields.