Wildlife in Spring

March

Frog

If walking past a pond or wet area early in the month, you may see frogs mating, or more likely, you will see their jelly-like frogspawn. The adults do not look after their young. On average, of the 3000 eggs that the female frog lays, only 5 will survive to become tadpoles and then adult frogs. 

Carpets of vivid yellow lesser celandines appear on the verges and woodland floor. You have to be out in the middle of the day to see them at their best as they are sensitive to cold, and in the early morning or late in the afternoon – or on cold, grey days – they are tightly closed yellow buds, making them almost invisible.

Another typical spring flower which you may come across is the pale yellow primrose, which can be seen on banks and verges along the trail. They provide a valuable source of nectar of emerging insects such as bees and night flying moths.

April

 

 

This month, the trees start in earnest to break bud and green up. Blackthorn bushes put on a fantastic display of pretty, white blossom in April prior to the leaves appearing.

 

Bluebells and wood anemones make an appearance this month in wooded areas. They are an indicator of ancient semi-natural woodland (woodland over 400 years old) and look spectacular en-masse.

 

As the temperature starts to increase, overwintering bright sulphur-yellow brimstone butterflies (the original “butter fly”) start to become active. They are likely to be the first butterfly of the year seen along the trail.

 

You may also see St Mark’s flies, so called because they are supposed to appear around St Mark’s Day (25 April). The legs of these flies hang down below them, looking rather like a sting, but they are quite harmless. They appear in swarms and are particularly fond of cow parsley flowers.

Bluebells

May

Cow parsley

Cow parsley, a member of the carrot family, produces great white drifts along many sections of the trail from early May. When crushed, its leaves smell of aniseed.

You can probably smell wild garlic, also known as ramsoms, before you see it. It favours damp ground and has bright white flowers and strappy leaves. The leaves are very tasty in salads.

Dunnock nests are favourite targets for the parasitic cuckoo to lay its eggs, leaving the host to bring up and feed the chicks as their own. Sadly these birds are in major decline, but you can still hear this summer visitor occasionally (usually, it seems, a long way away), with some of them not arriving from Africa until May.

June

Cow parsley, a member of the carrot family, produces great white drifts along many sections of the trail from early May. When crushed, its leaves smell of aniseed.

You can probably smell wild garlic, also known as ramsoms, before you see it. It favours damp ground and has bright white flowers and strappy leaves. The leaves are very tasty in salads.

Dunnock nests are favourite targets for the parasitic cuckoo to lay its eggs, leaving the host to bring up and feed the chicks as their own. Sadly these birds are in major decline, but you can still hear this summer visitor occasionally (usually, it seems, a long way away), with some of them not arriving from Africa until May.

Butterfly