Spring is a fabulous time of the year to see wildlife here in the UK. It’s a time of new beginnings as the class of 2021 are welcomed into the world. We’ve asked our resident wildlife expert, Geoff, for his top tips for wildlife watching at this time of the year.
Across the country we seeing the return of those bird species who migrated for the winter months. Swallows and house martins are back in the country again. As are puffins, guillemots, razorbills and gannets who are returning to their breeding cliffs and offshore islands.
Many other species are also returning – wheatears, chiffchaffs and willow warblers already here but pied flycatchers, whitethroats and redstarts will soon arrive.
Last year we saw the first white stork successfully breed in the UK for around 600 years at the Knepp estate in West Sussex. It’s exciting to see the storks already back there again and we keep everything crossed for more successful broods.
Splash of colour
Look to the hedgerows and trees – you can’t help but notice the splashes of colour from the blossoms and flowers. Gorse is in flower now, primroses too – adding a yellow hue to the countryside. The blackthorn is also in bloom – the hawthorn will be out by the end of May.
The colour doesn’t just come from the flora of our countryside. Some of the early emerging butterflies are already appearing. Look out for peacock, brimstone and small tortoiseshell.
The first Sunday in May is Dawn Chorus Day. A day when we encourage you to get out there and listen to the beautiful song that our birdlife offers to start the day. It is louder at this time of year as the birds are mating and stalking out their territory. It will be at its loudest just before dawn breaks – so make sure you set your alarm clocks for an early start!
Waking and emerging
Now is the time we’ll start to see adders slowly emerge from their winter hibernation – especially with slightly warmer days to assist with their thermoregulation.
Fox cubs and badger cubs will also slowly start to emerge from their dens as they are weened. Certainly with fox cubs, it’s not uncommon to find them seemingly left alone at this time of year in hollows or spaces under garden sheds. Mum is never usually that far away. If you do come across any – please observe from a respectful distance to check that mum does return.
On warmer evenings you may also spot bats in the air and perhaps hedgehogs on the ground. If you have hedgehogs in your area and haven’t already, please do consider checking the boundary fences of your garden to make sure there is a suitable place for them to travel from one garden to another.
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