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From shy to spry; March males are all-singing, all-dancing

Last modified: 02 March 2013

Brimstone butterfly resting on leaf

Image: Ernest Vikne

Brits aren't known for making a song and dance about things, but that's not so for our wildlife, which is emerging from the chilly winter this month to be at its loudest and most flamboyant.

Male birds are at their most colourful right now, the way they moult and the brighter spring days mean their plumage appears more vivid and their patterns and markings are more obvious. 

Many male songbirds - robins, blackbirds and song thrushes among them - are competing to sing the loudest and longest, all in an effort to attract a mate for the start of the breeding season.  Common frogs and toads are joining the cacophony too, croaking to attract a partner. 

Ian Hayward, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: 'It's a fever of activity in our gardens and parks at the moment. Birds are displaying brighter plumage, we've already received reports of frogspawn in some garden ponds and a few warm days will bring more colourful flashes of bees and butterflies zipping through the air.  

'This chorus of singing, buzzing and croaking is wonderful, but of course there's real purpose behind it; it's all geared towards pairing up and mating.'

Bright yellow brimstone butterflies - one of the first butterflies of the year to take to the air - have been seen flying in the south of England and queen bumblebees are coming out from hibernation now to start the business of rebuilding their colonies.

Away from gardens, hares are active and indulging in their classic spring ‘boxing' behaviour. Once thought to be males boxing each other to win a female, it's now known that boxing is actually the female hare fighting off the males' attentions.  

Meanwhile, paired-up great crested grebes are performing their elegant spring mating 'dance' mirroring each other's movements on the water to help them bond ahead of breeding.

Ian continues: 'The males of the wildlife world will be pulling out all the stops this month to bag a partner to breed with. It's a fascinating time to be outdoors experiencing these often shy creatures dancing and singing for all they're worth, showing off their best moves. 

'Other species like hedgehogs, grass snakes, and even some bat species are popping out of hibernation right now, too.'

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