Springtime in the Essex Countryside

Things for our young nature lovers to look out for this Spring!

This season is a time of days getting longer and the spring sunshine bringing growth and greenery everywhere with buds bursting and leaves unfolding. Birdsong reaches a peak and many flowers appear, in turn attracting insect-life, including bees and butterflies. Animals that hibernated over winter appear on the first warm days of spring so keep an eye out in early Spring for hedgehogs, newly emerged queen bees, frogs, toads and grass snakes.

Other animals such as squirrels become more active and are easier to spot. Millions of migrant birds arrive, with chiffchaffs, sand martins and wheatears amongst the first to appear with swallows, swifts, cuckoos, nightingales and many warblers following suit in April and May.  Nature is at its most busy in Spring, every day brings changes, the sap is rising, and for many species finding a mate and successfully breeding is top priority.

 

What should we look out for?

 

‘Budburst’

Watch the progress of Spring in a hedge! The buds of hawthorn burst and new fresh green leaves appear followed by creamy white flowers in late April or May. The blossom was once known as ‘May’ but in many places flowers now appear in April, perhaps an indication that climate change is making Spring come earlier.

 

Queen bumblebees

Look out for the first bumblebees on warm days! These will be queens which have successfully survived the winter and are now seeking nectar and pollen from Spring flowers.

 

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)Migrant birds

Chiffchaffs are usually one of the first migrant birds to arrive and they can be heard singing their names in a repetitive ‘chiff chaff’ song from the tops of trees. Cuckoos, swallows and house martins usually arrive in April and swifts may not appear until early May.

 

 

Frogs and toads on the move

One of the first signs of spring is the spawning of frogs and toads. Look for masses of jelly-like frog spawn in local ponds and ditches. Toads often travel long distances to suitable ponds to breed in; they travel at night when it's cooler and damper and sadly often get killed crossing roads.  There is evidence that frogs and toads are breeding earlier, even in late winter months as early as February.

 

Woodlands carpeted in bluebells

One of the great Spring wildlife sights! In late April and early May bluebells are usually at their best so make sure you don’t miss this amazing Spring spectacle. A carpet of bluebells transforms woodlands into a place of magic and wonder.

 

We’d love to see and share your pictures of Spring around the Essex countryside! Why not visit our facebook page and post them there?

If you are out and about on a stroll around the lanes near the farm, pop in and say hello! Our cafe is open from 9am and serve teas, coffees, an assortment of cakes and sweet treats as well as something for the bigger appetite if you need to ‘refuel’ for the journey home.

 

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