March

Comma

Now the weather has begun to warm up a bit…a very little bit…all manner of wildlife is starting to become more active and emerge, blurry eyed, from their winter slumber. The landscape has begun to fill with colour, song and the smells of spring.
Like many of us, mammals and birds in the UK use this time of year as a chance to do a bit of spring cleaning. Look out for piles of dry grass and other vegetation appearing around badger setts as they work to clear out their winter bedding and replace it with clean material. You may also find the old bird’s nests, unceremoniously discarded below nesting sites, in preparation for this year’s breeding season.

Primrose

More and more flowers have begun to emerge over the last few weeks. These early flowering plants are a vital source of nectar for our pollinators, early in the season. One of the earliest pollinators to emerge is the much-admired bumble bee. Due to their size and well insulated bodies, bumble bees can begin their year earlier than many invertebrates. Queen bees that have overwintered underground become active in spring and being searching for a suitable nesting site, often an abandoned mouse hole or crack in a wall. They will then get to work provisioning their new home with stores to start this year’s brood.

Goat Willow Catkin

Flowers such as primroses, goat willow, lesser celandine, wood anemone and violets all provide good sources of nectar and pollen to fuel the active life of the bumble bee in spring.
Other insects to look out for are the early species of butterflies. The brimstone butterfly is often one of the first to emerge, however our advisors have already seen several other species including small tortoiseshells, peacocks and commas.
This month will also see many of our native trees’ buds burst into life, giving the countryside a yellowy, green haze as each trees’ flowers and leaves begin to emerge. One of our favourites to look out for is the Ash, pictured here.

Ash bud burst

As the buds burst, there is a spike in the number of insects, as the flowers, bud, nectar and pollen provide food to fuel the population boom. At this time the dawn chorus really begins to gain momentum. With more insects around, birds now have a food source to feed young chicks and work to hold territories more fiercely. In addition summer migrants such as the chiff chaff are beginning to return, adding their distinct calls to the growing melody.
If you’d like to find out more about breeding birds and learn how to undertake breeding bird surveys, mapping individual territories, then our upcoming training may be of interest to you, see here (hyperlink to breeding bird training day). We’re also running several events focusing on bird ID and monitoring in Dorset and Somerset, see our events page (hyperlink to event page) for more information.

 

Violet

Lesser Celandine

Wood anemone