Spring is the time for all things new; the flowers are out, the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing. Here’s a run-down of what’s happening in glorious springtime.
Birds, Bees & Butterflies, oh my!
This is the busiest time for nature as everything from plants and insects to amphibians and birdlife have all emerged or returned from their winter retreats. In the coming weeks, you’ll notice more colour and noise as flowers burst into life and birds migrating back from their overwintering sites begin singing for mating partners. One of the most noticeable is the Chiffchaff, whose eponymous call serves as a long-standing indicator of spring.
Because spring is such an active time, it’s a great to brush up on your wildlife ID skills; simply taking a walk in the sunshine can familiarise you with bird calls and butterflies. You can also start recording what you see and pass the data on to conservation organisations, which can then be used to recognise the effects climate change has on this time of year.
Average rising temperatures in the UK have led to the early emergence of flora and fauna in recent years, and as monthly temperatures continue to soar flowers, butterflies and moths can all emerge early too. This makes recording of the first sightings of birds, bees, butterflies and flowers invaluable for understanding climate change.
One of the greatest natural spectacles in the UK is the carpets of blue/purple that annually cover the woodland floor. Bluebell woods usually spring up around mid-to-late April and their fleeting nature adds to their beauty.
Bluebell emergence has been recorded in the UK since 1809 and reinforced with Woodland Trust’s Nature Calendar since 2001. The long-term recording of the first flowering provides a data set to recognise the correlation of early flowering as a response to climate change.
Some of the best bluebell woods in the UK are Arlington Bluebell Walk in Sussex, Hole Park in Kent and Bunny Old Wood in Nottinghamshire, but if you can’t get out into the countryside you can still see some in the Woodland Garden on Kensington Rooftop Gardens, London.
And Bluebells aren’t the only flowers around. Flower shows and festivals are taking places across Europe showcasing all that spring has to offer. The annual Royal Horticultural Society flower shows take place throughout the year, with the springtime shows running from early April at RHS Cardiff, through May at RHS Malvern Spring, to June at RHS Chatsworth and RHS Harlow Carr.
The most renowned in the UK is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London, taking place between the 23rd and 27th of May, with florists, horticulturalists, gardeners, artists, sculptors, fashion designers and architects coming to show their work with flowers.
Outside the UK Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands is one of the best flower shows in the world. Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641 with the surrounding 200-hectare estate historically recognised for its bountiful foraging opportunities. However, its original purpose was changed when the land was developed into an exhibition celebrating spring flowers in 1949, officially opening as a spring park in 1950. 2017 marks the 68th running of the show, open from now until May 21st, and is well worth a visit.
Give back to nature
If you have a garden, no matter how small, you can make it a haven for wildlife and much needed respite for this time of year. Why not sow some wildflower seeds to have a bluebell patch of your own next spring; or make a pond out of an old pot or frying pan to encourage amphibians into your garden.
Not mowing your lawn can also make a significant difference. Allowing what wildflowers you may already have to establish provides a vital food source for butterflies and other insects, and most importantly bees!
By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern