Bluebells have started blooming in the woods, bees buzzing in the garden, and frogspawn appearing in ponds. Now we just need some Spring sunshine! If you’re out and about this weekend, here are just some of the things to look and listen out for:
Blossom & flowers – from fruit trees to hawthorn in the hedgerow, there is beautiful blossom everywhere. May is also the month for wild flowers including campion, cornflower, cuckooflower, orchids, poppies and chamomile. The verges are starting to explode with cow parsely and the bright yellow blooms of groundsel.
Birds – have you heard your first cuckoo call of the year yet? Now is the time to listen! Also listen out for the beautiful song of the nightingale who arrives in April and sings until early June, and the hypnotic turr of the Turtle Dove who arrives this month. All three are on the IUCN Red List. Early morning is the best time to catch birdsong – if you can get up at 5am for the dawn chorus you won’t regret it. Swifts, swallows and house martins can also be expected this month – seeing them loop and swirl high in the sky is always uplifting.
Insects – look out for cockchafers (May Bugs) – large noisy beetles who fly around on a Spring evening looking for love. Brimstone butterflies are often the first butterflies of Spring and can be identified by the yellowy/green colour, followed by the small orange tip butterfly.
Snakes – watch out for adders if you’re out walking, as they love to warm themselves in a sunny spot – they can be identified by the diamond markings on their back. Grass snakes usually come out of hibernation in April, but it’s been so cold that they may only be emerging now – they love a warm compost heap to shelter and lay their eggs. They tend to lurk around garden ponds looking for easy prey.
It’s hedgehog awareness week – here are a few things you can do to help our hedgehog friends find a mate this month:
Create a hedgehog highway – leave a gap in fences/walls for hedgehogs to commute between gardens. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommend a gap of 13cm by 13cm.
Leave a wild area in your garden – logs provide shelter for hedgehogs.
Check your bonfire – it’s a good idea to get into the habit of moving the pile you want to burn to a new area before setting it alight. This way you will uncover any wildlfe which may be sheltering.
Make sure you have easy access in and out of your pond/water feature.
Stop using pesticides and posions!
If you would like to feed your garden hedgehogs, meaty cat/dog food is best. Please only offer water in a shallow dish to drink and not milk.