What's on in the woods
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Our woods are a delight to visit all year round, but spring is the jewel in the crown.
Deepest, darkest winter is firmly behind us for another year, but when did spring officially start? The first day of spring varies depending on the meteorological or astronomical system.
This is simpler because it splits the year into weather scientists split the year into quarters of three full months. This means that every year, spring takes place from 1 March until 31 May.
This is less straightforward as it depends on when the spring equinox falls. The spring equinox (also known the vernal equinox) is considered the start of spring astronomically. This is when daylight and night-time hours are the same length. In 2019 the spring Equinox was on Wednesday 20 March.
In temperate parts of the world, spring is the season that follows winter and is associated with the fresh growth of vegetation, germination of dormant seeds, resuming of activity in hibernating creatures and the start of animal and plant reproduction.
A spring walk in the woods can reveal tantalising signs of the season to follow. Whether it's the minute, shocking pink of a female hazel flower, a bumble bee buzzing about on a warm day or a boldly singing blackbird. A peek under the leaf litter can reveal hidden growth of bluebells and wild garlic, promising a visual feast to come.
Listen out for migrant birds returning for the summer. Cuckoo is one of our most iconic summer birds with a distinctive call. The familiar 'cuckoo' call is made by the male bird - the female cuckoo's song is a quiet gurgle.
Other wildlife is getting active too, insects start buzzing, crawling and creeping, plants emerge and begin to flower.
When do bluebells flower? Find out when and other fascinating facts about native bluebell (Hyacinthpides non-scripta). Learn to to tell them apart from non-native bluebells and why they are so important to our woods and wildlife.
Was spring early this year? What effect has the weather had on wildlife? Does climate change affect timings in nature? Take a look at Nature’s Calendar we'll help to answers to these questions.
And from leaf buds bursting to blackberries ripening, you can let us know what’s happening on your patch. You'll be contributing to a long biological record that dates back as far as 1736 that's used by researchers across the world to explore the effects of climate change on wildlife.