Signs of spring – reignite your love for nature

(c) Philip Precey

Time spent in nature can help lift our spirits and brighten our days - here are a few signs of spring to look out for in your garden or local area during this difficult period.

The chorus of bird song

Spring is a time of change. For our feathered friends, thoughts turn from survival to more amorous pursuits. As birds across the UK search for a mate, the landscape fills with song, the chorus growing as summer visitors arrive from farther south. Almost any green space can offer a seasonal symphony, perhaps with the warble of blackcaps, the melodic voice of the blackbird and the flourishing finale of chaffinches.

This spring, why not seek out the incomparable song of the nightingale, the cascading chorus of a wood warbler or the simple but splendid call of the cuckoo. Listen out for the song of the chiffchaff which returns to the UK in early spring. Its call is a lively, repeated ‘chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff, chiff-chiff-chaff’.

As birds nest and hatch their young this spring, help them by providing suitable food to sustain their energy. As well as putting out leftover food like grated cheese, cooked rice, dried fruit and chopped nuts, mealworms are a brilliant food to provide in the breeding and fledgling season.

Wildflower blooms

Wildflowers are beautiful, but they also are good for wildlife, providing a vital food source for many insects, mammals and birds. Our native wildlife has evolved over thousands of years alongside our native wildflowers. Many species are perfectly adapted to feed from them and live amongst them, sometimes even exclusively.

This spring, enjoy spotting cowslips. These well-known spring blooms are easy to identify with their cup-shaped, yellow flowers growing in nodding clusters on tall stalks. They grow in open areas of woodland, meadows and on roadsides. After decades of worrying decline, cowslips are returning to unsprayed road verges and banks. You can also look out for beautiful blue bluebell carpets which cover the floors of ancient woodlands.

You can help by planting wildflowers at home. It doesn’t matter if you have a garden, a windowsill or a tiny patio – you can plant wildflowers in beds, containers or window boxes to create a beautiful mini-wildflower meadow to enjoy all spring and summer. Why not use a quirky container, like an old teapot, kettle or tin? Line with an old woolly jumper cut to size and plant up your selection of wildflowers using peat-free compost. You can buy wildflowers from our wildflower nursery at our Grow Wilder site (formerly Feed Bristol).

Butterflies

As we come into late spring and early summer, caterpillars will begin to emerge from their chrysalises as butterflies, ready to fill our landscape with colour. With a fascinating life cycle, this family of invertebrates is well worth learning about!

In the UK we have 59 species of butterflies – 57 resident species and two regular migrants, the painted lady and clouded yellow. Butterflies can be found in almost any habitat as each species has different food plants of choice. In Avon, our wildflower-rich calcareous grasslands are great places for butterflies, as well as rides and glades in our woodlands.

Hare a few ways you can still connect more with the beauty and magic of nature during this spring and early summer:

Nature Challenge from 24th-27th April – This weekend join in with the region’s challenge to record as many different wildlife species as we can in one weekend – this can be from your window, in your garden or while you’re out on your daily exercise. 200+ cities around the world will be taking part as we record local wildlife. All the wildlife records will help local conservation work! Find out more and take part on the Festival of Nature Facebook page or visit citynaturechallenge.org.

30 Days Wild June 2020 – 30 Days Wild is the UK's month-long nature challenge. It is all about re-connecting with the natural world around you and doing a little bit of good for wildlife. Staying connected to wildlife is really important for our health and happiness – and we could all do with that at the moment! Sign up and you'll get your hands on all kinds of wild ideas and inspiration of how you can connect with nature during these difficult times wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild.