Spring Wildlife

(c) George Cook

Spring is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings, with life literally bursting up around us – and this year the arrival of the warmer weather feels more welcome than ever. As we rejoice in the slow release from lockdown, nature is also celebrating the survival of a difficult winter.



Although last spring was a strange and difficult time, many of us found we were appreciating nature as never before. I hope this year we can continue to notice the singing birds, watch the butterflies and take the time to smell the wildflowers. Wildlife is all around us, and there is plenty to enjoy during this busy season.

First up is colour – because spring is a season to celebrate colour. Parks, lawns and verges become splattered with vibrant daisies, dandelions and lesser celandines - beautiful yellow wildflowers in the buttercup family also known as ‘the messengers of spring’. Bees, butterflies and lots of other invertebrates are also enjoying these early spring flowers. So far, I have spotted bright yellow Brimstone, Peacock, Comma and small tortoiseshell butterflies.  Spend a moment at the next patch of wildflowers you see and notice how many minibeasts you can see enjoying them.

This time of year is also extremely important for birds as they start building nests, attracting mates and defending territories. Our garden birds will all be singing much more – and if you’re lucky, you may see them gathering up nest materials. The long-tailed tit in particular builds an amazing nest using a huge variety of resources such as feathers, lichen, moss - and even spider webs!  Blackbirds pour their beautiful whistly song out into the spring air from the treetops or lamp posts. Another sound of spring is the two-note song of the adorable Chiffchaff. This small yellow warbler is about the size of a blue tit, and it proudly sings its name ‘chiff chaff chiff chaff’.

You cannot talk about spring birds without also mentioning swallows. Soon our skies will once again be home to these amazing travellers who migrate to the UK from Africa to breed, returning to the exact same nesting site year on year. Just a few weeks ago, the birds that slice above our heads each spring will have been soaring over elephants and giraffes in the Serengeti and gorillas in the Congo rainforest.

 

 

 

 

These will be joined by my favourite bird in late April, the swift. These agile birds weigh no more than a crème egg and fly hundreds of miles a day from Africa to the UK each year. Hearing my first screaming swift is always a special moment.

It’s not just birds that are busy during the spring. Some of our favourite mammal species are also waking up after a long winter sleep! Hedgehogs are being spotted again across the city, and badgers become more active after winter. A must-see springtime classic is the arrival of cute baby lambs. Nothing can lift the spirit quite like seeing a young, playful lamb bouncing around the fields.

Life underwater is also beginning to erupt as amphibians start to breed and our garden ponds fill with frog and toad spawn. It’s easy to tell them apart as frog spawn is laid in large clumps of jelly, whereas toad spawn is laid in long strings. Keep your eyes peeled in April, as we will start to see the emergence of tadpoles.

One thing’s for sure - spring is an amazing time of year, with lots of wildlife to enjoy. Visit our website to find out how to help wildlife this spring and to learn more about the wildlife around you!