What to look for in Apri
24 Aug 2014 12:00 am
184 files
In April plants and animals alike profit from longer days and warmer temperatures. In woodlands bluebells, wild garlic and early purple orchids flower before the leaf canopy develops. In meadows and hedgerows, snake's head fritillaries, cowslips, pasque flowers and lady's smock may be found. Gorse is in full flower on heaths and clifftops, scenting the air with coconut and attracting insects to feed and birds to nest in safety. Migrant birds brighten the scene, as warblers, cuckoos, swallows, ospreys and nightingales arrive from their winter quarters and the males sing to attract mates and stake out breeding territories. In Scotland black grouse and capercaillie are lekking in the Caledonian pinewoods and glens. Reptiles emerge from hibernation, and adders can be seen sunning themselves on heathland, while bees, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects emerge from their larval state. Water voles are active in streams and watermeadows, feeding on the lush spring vegetation, while predators such as otters, foxes and badgers time their breeding season to coincide with the abundant food supply as spring advances.
What to look for in March
22 Aug 2014 12:00 am
137 files
"March month of many weathers wildly comes" wrote John Clare, a poet with fantastic powers of observation and great knowledge of the countryside. Often a month of bitter cold and wintery landscapes, March is also the month when many birds are actively courting and nest-building, while frogs and toads return to lakes and ponds to spawn. By contrast in Scotland and other upland areas, many creatures still have to contend with significant snowfalls. The March hare is another highlight of the month, as males congregate in arable fields and on downland to pursue females, who engage in boxing matches to fend them off or test their strength. Spring migrant birds start to arrive from Africa and southern Europe, with chiffchaffs and wheatears in the vanguard. Brimstone butterflies are the first on the wing, feeding on the nectar of spring flowers such as coltsfoot, daffodils, wood anemones and celandines, and other insects such as ladybirds and bees emerge from hibernation. Meanwhile, farmers are busy dealing with young lambs and ploughing for Spring crops as the soil temperatures rise, while skylarks start to sing and ellowhammers forage for seeds on the field margins.
What to look for in May
24 Aug 2014 12:00 am
161 files
May is for many the most glorious month in the British countryside. Majestic oak trees are now in full leaf, the hawthorn is a riot of blossom (inspiring the "darling buds of May" of Shakespeare's sonnet), and cow parsley flowers in hedgerows and meadows. Many butterflies and dragonflies are on the wing, mayflies live their brief day of adult life and the maybug or cockchafer is also on the wing at dusk. This year the bluebells have been spectacular in May after a very cool April held them back. Birds - including the nightingale - are in full song, displaying and feeding young. Wood warblers and pied flycatchers can be seen in upland oakwoods, waders and grouse are breeding on moorlands, and seabird colonies are at their busiest, with huge numbers of terns, gulls, gannets and auks flying to and from their nests. Roe deer fawns are born during this month, while foxes are feeding their cubs on the healthy populations of young rabbits. Dolphins may be seen frolicking in the surf of the Moray Firth and Cardigan Bay, while cuttlefish lay their eggs in the warm waters along the English Channel.
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