Our #CloserToNature series of blogs aims to keep us connected with nature this spring while staying at home. David Wright, Warden of the Ayres National Nature Reserve, writes about the sights and sounds of spring:
Spring is my favourite time of the year. The weather warms up, flowers begin to appear and birds begin to sing.
This year, in particular, we seem to have had an incredibly wet and windy winter, but Spring seems to have come early.
We may not currently be in a position to enjoy it, but I hope my thoughts bring back memories and inspiration on your daily exercise, and optimism for the future.
As warden of the Ayres nature reserve, I see those changes first-hand.
As the weather warms up, bumble bees begin to emerge from the rough grassland, butterflies like the Small Tortoiseshell appear from hibernation and frogs begin to mate and lay their spawn.
Birds begin to sing around the Ayres such as the Song Thrush and Chaffinch.
One of the first spring migrant birds we hear is the Chiffchaff, with its simple ‘chiff-chaff’ song calling from the flowering willow bushes. To me, this really signals that spring has arrived.
These small birds have travelled all the way from Africa in a few weeks to set up their breeding territories.
Wheatears (pictured) also appear on the beaches and cropped turf areas, and Stonechats pair up in the gorse and scrub.
The bulk of my summer work is involved in monitoring the breeding birds on the beaches at The Ayres.
Ringed Plovers arrive early to stake their claim to an area of the shingle. They can often be seen doing their low, zig-zagging, display flights over the beach.
The Ayres has one of the highest breeding densities in Britain, so space is at a premium.
Oystercatchers and Curlews also come back in late March.
Both birds can live between 20 and 30 years, so they use the same part of the beach, or sand dunes year after year.
I begin to look for the ‘re-terning’ Little Terns in April, but it will be a month or two before they settle down.
I hope I can share a series of blogs over the coming months as the Spring progresses.
Despite the problems we are encountering, the natural world continues to excite and interest us all, I hope.