Yesterday was the first official day of spring, so what better excuse to get out exploring the great outdoors this weekend?
We’ve put together a checklist of things to keep an eye out for, whether you’re out on a countryside walk with the kids, or are heading out with a camera and want some springtime photo inspiration.
There might not be many flitting about yet but butterflies are starting to appear! We’ve seen a few Peacock butterflies when on a woodland walk and in the garden too. The warmer temperatures and early spring bulbs and flowers give butterflies vital nectar, and before long, you may start to find a few caterpillars or see clusters of eggs laid on the underside of leaves too.
Common garden butterflies are Cabbage Whites, Peacocks and Red Admirals. You may also see Orange Tips and if wandering in the countryside, moths and varieties like Tortoiseshells and Commas, especially among long grass and in sunny spots. You can learn more about UK butterflies and identify what you spotted using the guide on the Butterfly Conservation website.
When hovering around dry grass, twigs and last year’s old growth on plants in the garden, you may spot a couple of ladybirds. Their distinctive spots on shiny red wings always bring a smile to my face and so far this year I’ve found loads of them! Ladybirds are fantastic predators, helping keep pests like greenfly under control so having a good army of them patrolling your garden is just what you want.
Help encourage them by having an area where dead sticks and twigs are permitted. We built a bug hotel which has all sorts of nooks and crannies for beneficial insects to hide out. This can be a brilliant way to make a feature in your garden without it looking untidy.
Colour is starting to pop up everywhere, from daffodils and narcissus to white snowdrops and crocuses in pretty purples, oranges and yellows. Soon they will give way to the new growth of leaves on the trees, and the bluebells which give calming carpets of deep blue through woodlands around the UK.
Spotting these first signs of spring is one way to put a smile on your face, as they brighten up even the less sunny spring days. Remember wild flowers shouldn’t be picked – it’s much better to leave them for others to enjoy in their natural habitat as they won’t last long in a vase in the house. Some species are also protected making it an offense to pick them from the wild.
After hibernating in the mud at the bottom of ponds, frogs are emerging and starting to lay their first batches of frogspawn. Green Village HQ has a quivering jelly-like mass of frogspawn already floating around in the wildlife pond and we see our local frogs enjoying a swim most days.
Remember not to disturb ponds during the mating season if you’re starting to tidy your garden up, and keep an eye out for inhabitants and frogspawn as these lovely creatures are a real ally in the fight against slugs and other garden pests.
If you don’t have your own wildlife pond, you can still go frog spotting. Many country parks and visitor centres have wildlife areas with ponds that visitors can walk around. You can even keep going back to see the frogspawn hatch out and become tadpoles!
Newborn lambs are a sight all the family loves to see. With tails waggling as they feed and springs in their feet as they gambol around the fields, chasing each other until they’re tired out, it’s always surprising to see just how tiny the newborn babies are.
If you live near farmland or fancy a run out into the countryside, you’re very likely to see mothers with their lambs jumping around or snoozing in the sun and their cute little faces make fantastic photographs. They grow up quickly though, so enjoy the sight while you can.