Whilst until now, spring has gradually made its presence known with welcome, but often dainty. blossoms, delicate wildflowers in woodlands and the gradual arrival of migrating birds, May seems determined that spring goes out with a bang.
The steady build-up of migratory songbirds, combined with the peak of the territory and mate finding for resident bird species, presents one of the UK’s truly unforgettable natural spectacles – the dawn chorus. Whilst the early morning birdsong can certainly be enjoyed in the month book ending May – the crescendo of magical musicality this month is not to be missed. Unlike many wildlife wonders which require travel or very specific geography, the dawn chorus is as democratic as they come. Whilst the venue of choice for the ultimate experience of this natural phenomenon might be an ancient woodland – it can readily be enjoyed in a suburban garden, city park or even just by throwing open a window in even the most urban of settings. The one prerequisite to get the best out of this auditory delight is that you get up early. With different species bagsying different time slots, leave it too late (and in this context, late is still shockingly early) and you’ll miss the literal early birds such as robin and great tit. If you’re taking in an urban dawn chorus, a very early start will also help ensure your experience isn’t rudely interrupted by traffic noise generated by the day’s first commuters or the harsh beeping tones of a reversing bin lorry.
If you do choose to take in the dawn chorus in a woodland setting, you’ll have the added bonus of being able to enjoy the amazing carpets of bluebells once the sun has properly risen. The sight of the early sun’s rays filtering through these most quintessentially British blooms will make the shock of such an early start even more worthwhile.
With evenings warming up, the month presents opportunities to enjoy wildlife even whilst we are sat in our gardens after dark. Bats can often be seen hunting for insect prey above suburban gardens and, if you have lights in your garden, you may also be treated to the sight of a majestic elephant hawk moth. Moths are often seen as dowdy cousins to butterflies but many have wonderful colours and patterns that make many butterflies look positively drab. Like most moths, the reason people are unfamiliar with just how amazing elephant hawk moths they are is that they choose to fly at night. The elephant hawk moth is a night flier, but with its bright, almost lurid, pink and green decoration and wingspan of around six centimetres you should have no problem recognising the species if one is attracted to your garden lighting.
Make the most of your wild summer
Whilst not wanting to wish the natural marvels of May away, it would be remiss of me not to plug the annual wildlife spectacular that is 30 Days Wild in June. Preparations for what is now the UK’s biggest nature challenge are now well under way, but there is still time to sign up and register for a pack including wildflower seeds. For further details visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/30-days-wild.