Keep eyes peeled for first signs of spring

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A mild winter has led to some unseasonal appearances of species we at the wildlife trust normally wouldn’t expect to see at this time of year.

Daffodils blooming 
– The sight of a golden host of daffodils is enough to brighten up the gloomiest of spring days. In early spring head to the few remaining woods and meadows where hosts of wild daffodils grow in wild profusion.

Much more delicate and understated than their brash cultivated cousins, these wild flowers are the forgotten champions of a woodland in spring. They’re also known as the Lent lily, since they often bloom over the Lent period.

Hares boxing – Early spring is the best time to see the fastest land mammal in the country, the brown hare. Reaching speeds of 40 miles per hour at full pelt, the brown hare is one of our great athletes, easily able to outpace Usain Bolt.

The brown hare’s great speed can make it a tricky character to get a good look at. Luckily, ‘mad March hares’ choose a different sport in the spring, taking up boxing instead of sprinting.

The pugilists are actually the females, spurning the advances of amorous males by boxing their prospective partners.

Woodpeckers drumming

– In the bare branches of our woodlands, woodpeckers are drumming, beating out the rhythm of the season.

Both male and female woodpeckers ‘drum’, advertising for a mate and proclaiming his territory by hammering away at his favourite branch in bursts of up to 20 times per second with a force four times as strong as that of a football being kicked by Wayne Rooney.

The bones of the woodpecker’s skull have evolved a durable combination of spongy ‘shock absorbers’ and a specially-adapted tongue bone that acts as a ‘seat belt’, holding the brain tightly in place.

Frogspawn being laid

– We’ve already seen plenty of frogspawn laid in ponds, ditches and slow moving stream. Female frogs lay thousands of eggs each year, but it’s a numbers game as only a small number survive to adulthood.

Look out for clumps of jelly with black spots. If there are long chains like strongs of pearls draped over underwater pond plants, you have a toad on your hands!

Keep your eyes peeled for the sign of the beginnings of spring, and share your sightings online using #lovewildlife.

For more information, visit hiwwt.org.uk/top-wildlife-experiences.