With winter having recently delivered a real bite, with more than a dusting of snow and temperatures struggling to get above freezing for days on end, it’s good to know that spring isn’t too far around the corner.
Early signs such as hazel catkins and tiny yet vivid hazel flowers have been in evidence for weeks and the first of the spring bulbs in our gardens are now clearly visible. As the days get noticeably longer there is also more time to take in the signs of brighter times ahead.
If you are lucky enough to live close to the open countryside, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for brown hares. Whilst most likely to be seen sitting motionless in a field as they scan the area for potential predators, or making a dash for cover when disturbed, at this time of year they can also be seen ‘boxing’. The sight of two hares stood on their hind legs ‘boxing’ is a wonderful experience, but boxing hares are likely to be a male feeling the wrath of a female not ready or willing to mate rather than rival suitors staking a claim to a female.
March can also be a good time to look out for birds as they establish breeding territories or build nests. If you’re lucky you might even stand an outside chance of catching a glimpse of normally elusive species such as lesser spotted woodpecker – more noticeable as they as they busy themselves securing a prime area.
Whilst some winter visiting birds may slip away unnoticed this month, March is also when you’re most likely to see a mix of winter and summer visitors side-by-side – so keep an eye out for the first sand martins, wheatears and chiffchaffs of the year. If the weather is mild you could also see species such as little ringed plover and garganey on wetlands including our Idle Valley Nature Reserve.
With a fresh wave of wildlife to see, hear and enjoy as winter gives way to the spring, Mother Nature also has the power to revitalise our spirits and lift our mood – so do make time to connect with nature in the weeks ahead.
Exciting times ahead for Idle Valley Nature Reserve
Despite the challenges of national lockdowns, many of our team working from home and restrictions on our volunteering programme, the past 12 months have seen great progress with wildlife projects at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve and across the neighbouring landscape. We have recently launched a public appeal and online survey to highlight our ambitious plan to bring beavers to the reserve. Beavers are nature’s finest wetland engineers and can transform habitats for other wildlife. To find out how you can help us bring beavers back to Nottinghamshire after a gap of 400 years visit www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/beavers.
Main image: Boxing Hares © Elliot Neep