Our top 10 wildlife sightings for March

Blossom and butterflies, birds and basking snakes; March brings a change for our wildlife as winter fades and a new season begins.
Boxing hares

European hare boxing by Andy Rouse/2020VISION

Hares

It really is spring when you see boxing hares! If you haven’t seen one yet check out these facts and tips explaining how, where and when to spot Britain’s fastest wild land mammal, capable of speeds of up to 45 mph. 

12 fascinating facts about brown hares

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff by Margaret Holland

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaffs, the little brown birds that call their name ‘chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff’, are one of the first migrants to return from Africa.

Some birds are even starting to spend the winters in the UK as the weather becomes milder. They’re very similar in appearance to willow warblers so their calls are the best way to tell the apart.

Have a listen to the chiffchaff

Wheatear

Wheatear by Amy Lewis

Wheatear

These attractive birds return from their African winters and tend to pass through our area, heading further north or west to breed. The name wheatear comes from the Saxon word for rump because of the white markings on their rumps.

Brimstone

Brimstone by Neil Phillips

Brimstones and other early butterflies

Look out for brimstones, the large yellow butterflies that may have given ‘butter flies’ their name.

They emerge from their winter hiding places on warm days and are a sure sign that spring is one its way. We’ve already seen brimstones flying around the grounds at our head office.

Other butterflies that spend the winter as adults include peacocks and red admirals so keep an eye out for these too.

Grass snake

Basking snakes

On sunny days in early spring you may catch a glimpse of grass snakes or adders basking in the sunlight. They’ve spent the winter tucked away, safe from predators and are now emerging and making the most of warmer weather.

Lesser celandine

Lesser celandine by Philip Precey

Lesser celandine

These pretty plants, with yellow, star-shaped flowers and heart-shaped leaves, bloom in woodlands and along hedgerows. Along with other spring flowers they are an important source of nectar and pollen for insects.

Inkpen Crocus Field

Inkpen Crocus Field by Adrian Wallington

Crocuses

Crocuses emerging from the ground are a familiar sight in many gardens. But Inkpen Crocus Field, in West Berkshire, is filled with hundreds of thousands of wild crocuses, which bloom each spring. No-one knows the exact reason why so many grow in this small field on the edge of the village, but whatever the reason the sight is truly spectacular. Visit during the first couple of weeks in March to see them at their best.

Visit Inkpen Crocus Field

Inkpen Wild Walk

Wood anemone

Wood anemone by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Wood anemones

Carpets of wood anemones indicate areas of ancient woodland because these delicate plants spread very slowly, perhaps as little as six feet in a hundred years.

The leaves have a musky smell, giving wood anemones one of their other common names ‘smell fox’.

Cuckoo pint

Cuckoo pint by Kate Morel and BjornS

Lords and ladies

This strange looking plant is fairly common in woodlands and along hedgerows, look for curls of green leaves pushing up through the earth at this time of year.

It has a variety of common names, including cuckoo pint and jack-in-the-pulpit. The flower is pollinated by flies and later in the year produces bright red berries, which are toxic to humans.

Did you know they have starchy tubers which were used in the production of stiff ruffs in days gone by?

Red admiral on blackthorn

Blackthorn blossom

Unusually for many trees the blossom on blackthorn appears before the leaves, giving rise to the phrase ‘blackthorn winter’ when hedgerows are filled with blossom which can look like a covering of snow.

Blackthorn is an important plant for wildlife throughout the year. The delicate white flowers are a useful source of nectar for insects in early spring. Later in the year sloes, the blackthorn’s fruit, provide food for birds. The thorny branches are ideal places for birds to safely nest and young blackthorn is essential for the rare brown hairstreak butterfly, which lays its eggs there.

Best reserves to visit in March

 

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