March Wildlife: What to look out for in nature this month
To be honest, this is not the blog post I was hoping to write at the start of March! By mid February I had psychologically totally moved on to Spring and her busy activity and fresh bright greens. I was planning a blog post full of sweet meadow scents and new life. But then ‘The Beast from the East’ came along and sank us back in to deep winter.
It’s been an extraordinary few days of weather. We live in quite a rural part of the south of Scotland. Around 18 inches of snow fell and we couldn’t leave the village for five days. At first it was pure and gorgeous and fun and fascinating. Buddy & I headed down to see the frozen river and off across fields with huge drifts of snow taller than I am. The whole village got involved in digging paths and clearing cars. But now it is all a bit brown and depressing. There’s tell-tale yellow patches and a lot of slush. We are ready for Spring to arrive and done with this snowy nuisance.
The birds are obviously struggling to find food. The extreme weather has driven quite a few species that we don’t normally see into the garden, including largish flocks of bramblings. Bramblings are winter visitors from Scandanavia, Finland and Russia. It’s been lovely to watch them from the kitchen window as the snow falls. Their black heads and orange colours are gorgeous against the bright white snow. I feel sorry, though, that the UK didn’t provide the sanctuary from extreme Scandanavian winters that they hoped for.
I’m not sure what this freezing air from Siberia will mean for the progression of Spring. It definitely feels at the moment like Spring is on hold until further notice. But perhaps the thaw will come later this week and the usual bustling March activity can progress as planned. All it will take is a few warmer days – those precious days where you can tip your chin up toward the sky and feel actual warmth from the sun for the first time that year – and Spring will be triggered. Our hibernators will venture out for the first time. I always imagine hedgehogs stumbling out of a leaf pile, blinking hard against the brightness, desperate for a square meal. You can leave meaty dog or cat food out for hungry hedgehogs at dusk, removing any leftovers in the morning, to help the newly awakened females bulk up for breeding season. The Queen Bumblebees are also due to re-emerge, seeking out nectar and pollen.
The blue tits and the great tits will get busy house hunting so make sure any nest boxes are ready to accept a new little feathered family. Finding a mate and a nest site will become top priority as winter seeps away and spring takes hold. Lengthening days add more and more voices to the dawn chorus. The explosive Great Tit call joins the minor-key Mistle Thrush, and from there the orchestra builds. A song sung at dawn, when the air is at it’s stillest, can be 20 times more effective in securing territories and mates.
The natural world, decorated with spring flowers like grape hyacinths, daffodils, the iris and the crocus, suddenly springs forth. There are leaves bursting their buds over there, the first chiff chaffs and wheatears arriving back over here, yellow gorse in flower there, and blackthorn blossom over yonder. Mad March hares are boxing, long tailed tits are constructing their beautiful complicated nests, and toads are travelling at night.
But, this evening, in front of the fire with the snow piled up outside and a bitterly cold wind swirling round the rooftops, it seems like a fantasy. As the saying goes, though, no winter lasts forever and no spring skips her turn.
Find the March Wild Months card in the shop right now.