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Nature Notes – March 2019

Bright green leaves emerging from a bud

It may have felt like summer for a few days last week but March is the first month in (meteorological) spring and long range forecasts suggest we’re in for wet and windy weather.

The animals on the meadow are definitely ready for spring. I’ll leave aside the butterflies that came out of hibernation temporarily – and even the sighting of a bat! – as they will be able to tuck themselves back in if the weather gets cold again. Lots of birds are beginning to build nests and are much more actively seeking food. The alders along the river are a good place to hear great spotted woodpeckers hammering, though they are often much harder to see. Lots of people have been hearing greenfinches – I caught a glimpse of one last week – and the RSPB page has a recording of their squawking call to help identify them without seeing them.

Green and brown bird lost in a tangle of bramble and lichen covered branches.
Glimpse of a Greenfinch

The conservation volunteers have finished hedgelaying, with only a bit of tidying up to do. It’s important not to cut hedges after February to protect nesting birds, especially when nesting may occur earlier due to unusual weather.

Standing trees and others laid flat to the ground in two lines on top of a bank.
Finished Hedge

Another sure sign of spring is frogspawn. Frogs will lay eggs in ponds as well as water filled ditches and plenty has been seen around the meadow.

Two frogs floating in water and frogspawn just visible.
Frogs and Spawn

Please remember not to disturb any nesting animals.

This month we can expect to start seeing the bright green spring leaves from lots of trees and the blackthorn beginning to flower. The blossom that is flowering now is, I think, cherry plum – reflexed sepals and green new growth, if you’re interested – but I will have to return to examine the leaves and fruit later in the year to be sure. Or some helpful person may correct me.

The bees are making the most of any sun, collecting pollen from the flowering willows – plenty can be seen and heard around the willow cathedral. We have our first bee walk of the year at the end of this month and new bee walkers are welcome – see the events page for details.

Bumblebee, covered in yellow pollen, flying to open willow flower.
Bumblebee on the Willow Cathedral

We’ll also be joining in the Great British Spring Clean with a litter pick on Sunday the 24th of March.

Enjoy the Spring

– Hester