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5 signs that spring is in the air

Posted: Tuesday 14th April 2015 by Community

(c) Dave Kilbey

There’s so much to look forward to in spring: here are some of the things that we love most about the new season

1. Early morning alarm calls

From March until early summer, it’s our feathered friends that wake us up in the mornings as the dawn chorus gets underway. Starting about an hour before sunrise, the male birds sing their hearts out to attract females by producing the strongest, most impressive song. The dawn chorus is also a way for males to defend their territory as they ward off other males. The first songsters of the season are residents such as robins and great tits, with skylarks, song thrushes, blackbirds and robins being the earliest risers.

Join us for one of our Dawn Chorus walks across the county.

Lower Woods nature reserve, near Wickwar - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 4:00am - 8:00am

Robinswood Hill, Gloucester - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 4:30am - 6:30am

Whelford Pools, Cotswold Water Park - Sun, 03/05/2015 - 4:30am - 6:30am


2. The ground turns blue

There can be no better sight in spring than stumbling upon a carpet of bluebells in a shady woodland. The vivid, deep violet colour of our native bluebells has an intensity that makes other species pale into insignificance. Native bluebells can be identified by their creamy-white pollen: if it’s any other colour, such as pale green or blue, then it is definitely not native.

Find out more about #glosbluebells and how to tell natives from non-natives

3 Brown hares become active

Brown hares are at their most visible in the spring as the breeding season encourages defensive behaviour, often described as ‘boxing’, as unreceptive females fend off passionate males. Longer limbed than rabbits, brown hares have powerful hind legs and can reach speeds of up to 45mph. They are also identifiable by their long ears which feature black tips. Brown hares have been in decline in this country over the last century, but numbers are now thought to be slightly increasing.

Where to see them: Coombe Hill nature reserve in early mornings or on arable fields across the Cotswolds

4. Hedgerows burst into life

For many people, the sight of blossom appearing on trees and hedgerows is a sure sign that we have left winter behind and that spring is on its way. Blackthorn is one of the earliest trees to flower in mid to late March when it produces masses of billowy white blossoms, even before its leaves appear. It provides an essential source of pollen and nectar for bees in spring and its foliage provides food for many moths and two of our more uncommon butterflies, the black and brown hairstreaks. Spring hedgerow flowers can also be an important food source for dormice.

5. Knocking on wood

The drumming of woodpeckers is a lovely, reassuring sound that lets you know warmer weather is on its way. Woodpeckers use drumming as a territorial announcement but also as a part of spring courtship. The great spotted woodpecker, which is found throughout Gloucestershire, is about blackbird size and has a distinctive bouncy flight. They will happily feed from bird tables and peanut feeders in gardens although they like to reside in woodland, especially with mature broad-leafed trees.

Where to see them: Forest of Dean and Siccaridge Wood nature reserves

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