“March winds and April showers, Bring forth May flowers”.
Currently we are experiencing one of those spring dry periods when high pressure seems to dominate for a long time. One of the old farmers’ sayings referred to “Cuckoo barley”, this meant that if barley was sown when you could hear the Cuckoo then it was unlikely to be a good crop. This was probably because the seed would be sown into dry ground and have a shorter growing period.
Keep an ear open for the Chiff Chaff which should have arrived by now. Much less common these days is the Willow Warbler. On warm days it is quite possible to see the lovely yellow Brimstone butterfly and we may also expect to see the Small White in flight this month. The female can be confused with the female Orange Tip so it is best to have a good look.
Flowers on bloom now should be Marsh Marigolds, locally known as King-cups and the Blackthorn should be on full bloom. We are fortunate in our local woods to have good displays of Primroses and in some cases Oxlips, look for the leaf shape and position of the flower cluster to distinguish true Oxlip from the False Oxlip.
One of the landmark dates of the year is bud burst on Oak and Hawthorn which always signifies the start of the Spring properly. If you have a badger sett nearby keep an eye on it, if a lot of bedding is being taken in then it is a good indication that cubs are present.
If you happen to be in Hatfield Forest then keep an eye open for any Violet plants. A close inspection might reveal tiny pinholes in the leaves, these may be the first feeding signs of the Silver Washed Fritillary larvae which will have hibernated nearby on old tree stumps. This butterfly has become increasingly common in the Forest in recent years and is well worth keeping an eye open for.
Always remember to send in your records as well as any photographs for the Seasonal Gallery.