Nature's countdown to spring

Nature's countdown to spring


Posted 2nd Feb 2018


The days are slowly starting to get longer and - dare we say it - winter is beginning to loosen it's grip

Despite this, the changing of the season still seems a long way off yet. However, this month by month guide will show you how to enjoy the gradual arrival of spring, while taking in the UK's most spectacular natural wonders.

February

Seal watching on the British coast

Grey seals are native to the shores of the UK. Between autumn and early spring, you will be able to observe grey seal colonies on most of the British coastline, as mothers come ashore with their pups. From the Orkney Islands off the North-Eastern coast of Scotland, all the way down to Falmouth, in the most Southernly county of England, there will be chances to spot these much-loved mammals the length and breadth of the country.

Grey seals have a cuddly appearance, and the sight of the pups will warm anyone even on the most bracing of winter's days. However, you should be cautious before disturbing these animals during pupping season (which is between mid-September and early February time), as threatened seal mothers can give a nasty bite. Other locations for spotting them across the UK include Blakeney Point and Horsey Gap in Norfolk, Donna Nook in Lincolnshire, Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire and the Farne Islands in Northumberland.

Snowdrops Festival

Another great way to bring a little cheer to the chilly months is heading out on a bright day and taking a walk in a snowdrop filled woodland (the best time for this is between late January and early February). The National Garden Scheme holds an annual snowdrop festival where thousands of gardens are opened for the public to visit and take in the beautiful flowers. If you're not sure where you can find them, there are some suggestions here.

March

Wild Daffodils

The daffodil is Britain's symbol for spring - as soon as they start flowering, we can rejoice as the new season will be on its way. After a bleak winter period, there will be nothing quite like wandering amongst a cheery carpet of daffodils to will lift your spirits.

Those who are familiar with the works of Wordsworth can make a springtime visit to Ullswater, in England's Lake District, where it's believed that he penned his famous lines. If the Romantic landscape of Northern England isn't to your taste, The Wildlife Trust has a great directory of the best locations to see wild daffodils in the UK, including Llandefaelog Wood near Brecon, Wales - after all, it is the Welsh national flower.

April

Seabird spotting

The cliffs and coastlines of the UK are home to a multitude of seabird species, ranging from Gannets and Guillemots to Puffins and Sea Eagles. Around eight million seabirds will breed and nest along the shores of Britain in springtime, with cliff walks and boat tours among some of the best ways to take in spectacular wildlife gatherings.

You can take boat trips from Portree Harbour on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to try and spot illusive Sea Eagles, while other possible sightings include Guillemots, seal colonies and even Minke Whales.

Rambles through one of the UK's many nature reserves can be another great way of spotting seabird gatherings, with the chalky cliffs of the RSPB reserve in Bempton, Yorkshire, home to around 500,000 birds between March and October.

Bluebell walks

If the other wild blooms in Britain haven't convinced you to head out and explore the great outdoors, then bluebell season certainly will. There will be a brief spell between late April (and into early May) when the forest floors of the UK come alive with a magical haze of blue flowers. Almost 40 per cent of the world's bluebell population flowers in the UK, providing a spectacle that is virtually unique to the British Isles.

Cregagh Glen in Lisnabreeny, Northern Ireland, will be transformed in springtime when the woodland bursts into life with swathes of colourful flowers sweeping over the hillsides.

May

Dawn Chorus

The first Sunday of May will play host to International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD), a day that will signal the true change in season and one which is celebrated in over eighty countries around the globe. Nature reserves and National Trust locations across Britain will run walks and events on this day for early risers to greet the morning sun and take in the natural spectacle of the chorus of Britain's songbirds.

The East of England has miles of marshes, wetlands and fens which is the perfect landscape for bird watching. Keep an eye out for Internaional Dawn Chorus Day events at RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk or Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk. The Norfolk Broads are considered a national park in their own right and offer the perfect setting for bird watching. There will be chances to cruise the peaceful waters on an International Dawn Chorus Day boat tour or consider creating your own IDCD adventure by hiring a holiday boat from one of the local boating companies synonymous with trips on the broads.





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