Often overlooked in our gardens due to it’s skulking tendencies and perceived drab looks but dunnocks come into their own in spring. They make up for the lack of colours and beauty with an uplifting and cheerful song. Listen out for their short and musical phrases through March.
Nature's Calendar: March
We have made it to Spring! Although let’s see how we go as March can see some very mixed weather meaning our wildlife needs to keep on its toes. However, expect a month of hope as spring flowers start to bloom.
We have seen a big decline in song thrush numbers, particularly in gardens, but if you do have one in the area now it the time to listen out. They can be sometimes secretive, but their song is the opposite and is broadcast from tops of trees.
They repeat each phrase, often in threes so that’s a good clue.
Another member of the thrush family to listen out for is the blackbird, with its rich melodic song. Often one of the first to start singing in the mornings, it’s worth waking up early for, to enjoy your local blackbird. March is great as it gets light at a sensible time, unlike later in spring.
Migration is not quite in full swing but a few species arrive in early spring and chiffchaff is one of the earliest. Best listen out for their distinctive song in which they say their name making it one of the easiest songs to remember but they can be confused with great tit song which is bolder and loader but a similar two-syllable song.
Another early bird to arrive back from its African winter home is the wheatear. These breed in our uplands, and occasionally exposed rocky coasts, but whilst on migration they could be seen almost anywhere. Often seen in open areas such as fields and perching on a vantage point looking out for insects.
Look out for their distinctive white ‘rump’ as they fly.
Look out for the first butterflies coming out of hibernations. Your most likely to spot a peacock, small tortoiseshell or a red admiral but also look for an early brimstone or comma, as in the picture. Sunny sheltered spots are best as they’ll need the warmth from the sun to keep active.
A member of the buttercup family and one of the first flowers to appear in spring meaning it’s popular with insect as an early food source. Look out for it along woodland edges and under hedgerows and damp places.
Another name for this plant is pilewort as its roots can be used to help haemorrhoids.
Frogs and Newts
This month we will see garden ponds spring to life with frogs, toads and newts making use of this valuable habitat.
Keep your eye out for spawn, frogs lay in clumps whereas toads lay in strands. Harder to spot, newts lay eggs on submerged leaves and neatly fold the leaves to protect them.
Look out for some very large and occasionally dopey bumblebees. These will be the queens fresh out of hibernation on the lookout for somewhere to nest. First, they’ll need to find a nectar source to build up energy and then it’s onto finding a cavity or hole to start a nest.
Get your hedgehog food at the ready! With everything else waking up and getting active you might see the reappearance of your garden hedgehog after a long winter absence. Remember to follow advice on what to feed your garden hedgehogs.
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What's happening in the natural world? Your questions about what you might see are answered every month.